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An Ecuadoran rescue worker surveys damage following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the country.
To support Jesuit Ecuadoran Earthquake relief please click here

Jesuits Take Action Following Devastating Earthquake in Ecuador

April 29, 2016 — The dust had not settled before the Jesuits in Ecuador began responding to the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that violently shook the northwest coast of the country on April 16. The quake left nearly 700 people dead, roughly 16,600 injured, and many missing. With more than 839 aftershocks recorded and an estimated 20,000 people losing their homes, President Rafael Correa called the disaster the “greatest tragedy in the last 67 years” and declared a state of emergency for the entire country.

In the days following the earthquake, coastal cities faced water and electricity shortages, and some areas were cut off from humanitarian aid and communication. Basic services have since been re-established, and the government has formed a national plan to respond to the emergency.

Despite progress, the secretary of disaster management said the country’s difficulties will become more acute with each passing day, particularly in housing.




Residents were forced to sleep outside as afterhocks affected the region. Photo by Ochoa Dolores, April 17, Pedernales-Ecuador

“We’re facing the most difficult phase right now, which is rescuing victims and recovering bodies,” said Ricardo Patiño, the country’s defense minister. “It will take us years to recover from this.”

No Jesuit or lay personnel were killed, but the Ecuadoran Jesuit Province suffered grave infrastructure damage to several schools, a church, a retreat house, and the Foundation Center for Social Promotion Río Manta. Father Gilberto Freire, SJ, provincial of the Ecuadoran Jesuit Province, announced a Jesuit-led plan to provide housing and relief for families in the affected coastal areas.

International economic assistance and contributions to the Ecuadoran Jesuit Province will be used to construct emergency housing through Hogar de Cristo Housing Corporation, a Jesuit-sponsored social apostolate that specializes in affordable housing for the poor living in coastal areas. The cost of an emergency housing unit is roughly $1,700 for a single family unit. A housing cluster for 11 families costs approximately $27,000. In addition, the Ecuadoran Jesuits will offer humanitarian aid, health brigades, psychological support, and assistance in neighborhood and community construction.



An Ecuadoran girl sits amidst the earthquake's devastation.

The Midwest Jesuits share a historical relationship with the Ecuadoran Jesuits and stand ready to accept, acknowledge, and transfer gifts to the Ecuadoran Jesuit Province. To make an online donation click here.

Checks can be made out to Midwest Jesuits (Memo: Ecuador Earthquake) and sent to 2050 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL, 60614-7719. Financial gifts will be used for the Ecuadoran Jesuit emergency housing and relief plan targeted to families who lost their homes in the affected areas.

In addition to financial gifts, other forms of humanitarian and medical aid are welcome. For more information, contact jsealey@jesuits.org.

“Please know of our gratitude for your prayers, interest, and generosity to the victims of this unfolding tragedy,” said Fr. Freire.  

[Sources: Reuters; New York Times; Manos Unidas; Instituto Nacional de Estadístca y Censos;Telesur; Agencia Pública de Noticias del Ecuador y Suramérica;ElDiario.es; BBC]



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