Ecuadorean priest speaks of heartbreak after earthquake

06 May 2016

EDGAR GIRALDO OROZCO

A PRIEST in Ecuador has called on the wider Anglican Communion to help victims of the recent earthquake in the country. The tremor, which struck on 14 April, devastated large parts of western Ecuador; 655 people are known to have died, many thousands were injured, and 48 are still missing.

The secretary of communications at the diocese of Litoral Ecuador, the Revd Edgar Giraldo Orozco, described the impact of the quake on local parishioners. “We estimate that 80 per cent have lost their jobs, 30 per cent have suffered damage to their houses, and many have begun to migrate to other areas of the country to rebuild their lives. All the stories are heartbreaking.”

Mr Orozco highlighted four areas in which the Church was seeking to help those affected by the earthquake: reconstruction, food provision, and medical and spiritual care. “It is essential”, he said, “to have many financial resources for this purpose; so we are counting on the help of Episcopalians and Anglicans worldwide.”

After the earthquake had struck, he said, the local Church had mobilised immediately: “Collection centres were established in each parish to collect food and water.” A tonne had already been delivered to people in the area.

He also praised the global response: “The international and national communities have responded wonderfully in terms of rescue and primary care to the earthquake victims.” Twenty-seven countries had sent rescue teams, and the search for survivors was continuing, Mr Orozco said. “The global solidarity was amazing, and we are very grateful for the immediate response; but we as a Church must have a comprehensive intervention, before the ‘boom’ of the media passes, to help rebuild the lives of people affected not only materially, but spiritually, so they may see the face of Jesus in us.”

Mr Orozco said that three people from the diocese of Litoral Ecuador were working to assess the individual needs of affected parishioners; and the diocese of Puerto Rico had sent four delegates to help with the aid effort. Partner dioceses of New Jersey and Tennessee in the US, and the agency Episcopal Relief and Development, were also raising donations for the earthquake victims.

Although he praised the Ecuadorean government’s response, Mr Orozco said that it was not yet enough. Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, has said that rebuilding costs could reach $3 billion.

Donations may be made through Episcopal Relief and Development (www.er-d.org).

Translation: Luiz Hernandez

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