Solidarity – Bridging the Divide

A few days ago I posted about the devastating earthquake that ravaged Ecuador’s Pacific coast. It was only a minute long but the cost of the physical destruction and the loss of human life will mark this country for a generation. And that’s not hyperbole. The American city of New Orleans, for example, was brought to its knees by Hurricane Katrina over 10 years ago and is still struggling to completely recover. And that’s in a country that has ample resources to aid in the recovery process.

In the case of Ecuador, however, this disaster comes at a time of severe economic uncertainty. With the economy already on the brink after the rapid decline of oil prices, a commodity on which the country relies heavily, Ecuador is now facing recovery costs estimated to be in the billions of dollars without any concrete means of being able to pay for it.

Ecuadorians, suddenly facing this menacing Goliath, have taken the challenge personally and have answered the call. Some 15 million Davids woke up the morning following the tragedy and immediately came together to find the pebbles with which they would conquer the giant that stood before them.

Grocery stores in less affected areas like Guayaquil and Quito were emptied as people flooded to buy goods to send to the disaster zones. People have mobilized and organized themselves in a way previously thought impossible. Everyone trying to find their way of getting involved.

There’s my friend Diana, a nursing student about to graduate who, along with other members of her class, were asked by the ministry of health if they were willing to go to the city of Pedernales, where the worst of the devastation took place and where the majority of the almost 500 dead have been found. Mere hours after the quake hit they were en-route, ready to use what they had learned to serve their country and their brothers and sisters in need.

There’s my friends from the local church who canvased their neighborhood, like so many other youths have done across the country, collecting enough blankets, water, and food  to fill an entire moving truck headed to Portoviejo, another of the affected cities.

The stories are endless. Solidarity reigns.

I wanted to be David. I wanted to head to the stream and find my pebble that I was also going to hurl at the Goliath facing this country that has embraced me as one of its own. And so I signed up as a relief volunteer through a government website as well as through a large, foreign NGO. I had a bag packed and was ready to get the call to head out and help dig up rubble and carry food and water to my adoptive countrymen.

But that’s not really how it happens. Unskilled volunteers sometimes get in the way more than they help and as hundreds of skilled relief workers arrive from around the world, ready to do what they are trained to do, and as I find myself still waiting for the call, I’ve realised that I have to walk back to the stream and pick up a different pebble, one more fitted to my type of sling.

And so I reach into the cool, rushing water and pull out my new pebble. It isn’t made of stone but rather of something even stronger. It’s made up of words. 551 words, up to this point, to be exact. Words that come together to form an exhortation to solidarity. A solidarity that bridges the divide between countries. We who cannot physically go and help dig out survivors from the rubble can still be active in our support. And so let us mobilize as well, in our own way.

Ecuador and it’s people are in need of aid and aid costs money. In the past 3 days, hundreds of people from 15 different countries have read my initial post about the earthquake. Let’s all come together, bridging the divide between all of these different countries from the four corners of our world, and engender the action of solidarity and sacrificially give of what we work so hard to get, our money.

Here are 3 different ways to financially donate towards relief efforts, and I encourage you to do some research and find others as well:

The Ecuadorian Red Cross, who is working tirelessly to bring medical aid to all of the affected areas, many of which have yet to be reached.

UNICEF, who is focusing on bringing food, water, clothing, and shelter to Ecuador’s affected children.

Ecuadorian Shelter Initiative, who is collecting money to build and send shelters to house the injured and other survivors who have lost their homes.

I encourage you to reach into the stream and pull out your pebble.

Fuerza Ecuador!

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7 thoughts on “Solidarity – Bridging the Divide

  1. I’ve been thinking the same, and have read that volunteers are also need for sorting and packing donations, collecting, and other such non-direct involvement. I’ll be in Cuenca tomorrow, and as soon as I settle a bit, I’ll find out what I can do there. Many hands, as they say.

      • I was in Quito Saturday night, last night in Banos and tonight in Riobamba. Everyplace I go people are mobilized. collecting goods and money. I can never be enough is a poor country like Ecuador, but it seems like there is a great collective spirit.

  2. I really couldn’t agree more with what you’ve said here, especially about choosing a volunteer role that suits your own personal skills! Thank you for sharing the news about what’s happening here in Ecuador. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sanchia!

      Just today I heard the head of a hospital saying that the disaster zone is absolutely chaotic with unskilled volunteers who unfortunately are getting in the way more than they’re helping. He was saying that they’re drinking all the water, eating all food and they themselves are starting to get sick. He was pleading with people to find other ways to get involved in the relief efforts right where they are, instead of rushing in to the affected areas. It’s a hard thing to accept, I think, for those who really want to help! They feel that unless they’re right there, where the buildings collapsed, they aren’t really helping. The great thing about coming together as a country, as a people, is that we all bring different things to the table. Together we can tackle the issues from all angles!

      I’m glad you resonate with the idea! Are you here in Ecuador?

      • It happens time and time again, and although I understand it comes from a genuine place, as you said it often does more harm than good.

        Yes, I’m an English teacher at a language school in Guayaquil and also a volunteer teacher with a children’s foundation in the north of the city. I used to be their volunteer coordinator so I just found myself really relating to this post! I’ve been publishing some of my friends’ stories on my blog to encourage my friends to donate.

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