Well, today marks one year since the devastating 7.8 earthquake that rocked Ecuador last April. I find it very fitting that the anniversary falls on Easter/Resurrection Sunday, a day that celebrates the new life we have been offered in Jesus. My friend, Aileen, wrote a short, but fitting Easter blog post, and I would encourage you to take a look. But I would like to briefly update you on the earthquake recovery efforts in my area.
My shopping city of Manta has made an amazing comeback! Many buildings have been repaired or torn down, although there are still others awaiting either. Most impressive has been the efforts towards helping the many home and store owners/vendors of the destroyed Tarqui area. For the most part, Tarqui still remains closed off and demolished. I have been told eventually all of it will be torn down and turned into a large city park. But the government has done a fabulous job of building a whole new area, even closer to the bus terminal, for the venders to relocate and sell their wares. There are three large sections side by side, with two sections being rows and rows of garage style stalls. The third section is larger stores made out of railroad car containers! This area has some of the bigger chain stores here, including appliance stores, pharmacies and even a bank, as well as a food court area. All of this opened within about six months after the earthquake. There is also a new mall that was under construction prior to the earthquake, but afterwards they really stepped up the pace, with the goal of opening it in time for the anniversary. They are falling a few days short, but I’ve heard it will be open this week – we are all very excited!
In addition, the people many of you personally helped are doing very well. As I’ve mentioned several times before, my friend Edwin was able to get back on his feet quickly with the vehicle that was purchased with funds many of you donated. As is true of many hard working Ecuadorians, he wears several entrepreneurial hats to make a good life for his family. He now is in partnership with another friend of ours and has started a successful car rental business. He also has been buying and selling silver jewelry, as well as doing private taxi and tour guiding when the opportunities come.
Edwin has also reported to me that his church has raised enough funds to begin work on a new building. It is truly amazing that they could manage to do so in such a short time, considering all the personal devastation suffered by so many families in the earthquake.
And finally, the couple from Edwin’s church, Leonardo and Maria, that some of you helped fund their rebuilding effort, are doing well. It took quite a while from my initial appeal, to make it happen. Funds came in slowly, and the work had to be done as we received the money and had volunteers to help. A neighbor allowed them to build next to and use their existing wall, and we were able to make a good concrete foundation, support pillars and roof for them, as well as buy some bricks for the remaining three walls. We fell short of the amount we needed to raise, but in the end God blessed Leonardo with a significant sized plumbing job, and he was able to contribute the remaining money to purchase what else was needed and finish putting up the walls. That has only been completed in the past few months, and he will add water, electricity, more rooms, etc. as he is able. But I’m happy to be able to show you these pictures that Edwin just recently took of an inaugural gathering Leonardo and Maria hosted in their new home:
The earthquake I went through was truly one of the most surreal events I’ve ever experienced and something I hope to never repeat in my lifetime. However my damage was minimal and repaired within six months. Many other people suffered loss of homes, livelihoods and even loved ones. But I have been so impressed with the solidarity I’ve continued to see on every level, from individuals, to organizations and even the government, to help get Ecuador and its people back on their feet. I am thankful, one year later on this Easter Sunday, to be able to look around so many places and see “beauty instead of ashes.” (Isaiah 61:3)