Asia Javier: Bringing hope to Ecuador´s shaken hearts
An unprecedented tragedy in the “Center of the World”:
More than 650 people were killed in what can be called the great natural disaster of the Century in Ecuador. What once used to be a touristic paradise in the Pacific region of this South American country, has become a post-apocalyptic sight, that would beat in roughness the most epic of Hollywood’s disaster movies.
The most affected province is Manabi, where a lot of people lost their houses and workplaces. Because of this, the economy in Manabi has been very hit. Public services such as education and health are having bad times.
In Manta, one of the most important hospital is going to be demolished because the 90% of the structure collapsed.
Portoviejo (capital of Manabi province) also resulted affected, also many towns around Manabi such as Chone, Tosagua, Bahia de Caraquez, San Clemente, Pedernales and many more, at least in a 80%.
During the whole month of May, many replicas have been occurring constantly, which makes it even more difficult for the aid and reconstruction tasks to develop in an efficient way.
After the Earthquake of April 16th, these are the most common scenes in the coastal region of Ecuador. / Courtesy Asia Javier
Javier Alumni, carriers of hope:
But there where the darkness is fuller, the few glimpses of light shine the most. As the result of the terrible earthquake happened in the cost line of Ecuador on April 16th, Asia Javier, as a solidary institution, has created a gathering center to receive donations from solidary people which are going to be deliver to the victims.
A first initiative which is operated by Asia Javier and Javier High School, is focused on the attention of imperative and urgent aid, which includes drinking water, food, basic hygiene products, which are delivered directly to the population in situ by a group of volunteers.
The other two Jesuit inspired institutions who are working hand on with the issue are the “Hogar de Cristo”, an organization created in 1971 with the purpose of building houses around the poorest neighbors in Guayaquil. Since 2001 Hogar de Cristo also provide microcredits and works in education and health, and “Fe y Alegria”, created 50 years ago, focusing on creating education centers and providing children basic education and satisfying their primary needs. These two initiatives have their effort put on keeping the wellbeing of the children and avoid an interruption on their education and food provisions.
Asia Javier Volunteer Team / Courtesy Asia Javier
During seven assistance visits, ASIA Javier solidary team, has delivered approximately 40 tons of non-perishable foods, water and basic health and hygiene products to the communities of Portoviejo, Bahía, San Vicente, Canoa, y Manta, the Parrish of Río Chico (which includes the communities of Playa Prieta, Los Casinos, San José, La Balsita, Santa Martha, El Corozo II, 1ero de Mayo and Tomatal (a zone afected by the earthquake and a flood on the same week), Bahía de Caraquez; the community of Pozitos of the Sosote Parrish of the Rocafuerte canton, and the low income neighborhoods of María Auxiliadora and Fermin Cevallos of Bahía de Caraquez; Canoa, San Vicente and Cojimies. All these places having amongst their population, the most vulnerable of society, children, single mothers, and elder, of which 90% were left without a roof by the earthquake.
A Hard day´s work:
The recollection is made in the Alumni house and the Diakonia Food Bank, which is managed by Jesuit Alumni, lead by Jose San Martin, their Director, and Federico Recalde
To reach all these Communities is not an easy task, it takes a lot of time an effort, by a group composed by about 7 to 10 Javier alumni graduated mostly between 1960 and 1980, which develop the following daily activities, which one of them, Mario Sierra, explains: “We go out generally Fridays at the end of the afternoon, beginning on Saturday mornings, working from 7:00am to 5:00pm approximately. We have spent days under intense heat, with a burning sun, and others getting wet under strong rainstorms, but that has not stopped us.”
Asia Javier: a glimpse of hope for the most vulnerable who lost it all. / Courtesy Asia Javier
Mario Sierra, president of Asia Javier stated in a heart breaking testimony that: “The situation here is a disaster, people are literally on the street, those who still can are sleeping in mattresses outdoors because they are scared of going back in an being victims of the replicas… the situation is rough… we took a first pack of provision, which mainly consisted on a two or three days’ worth ration of non-perishable products and some water; we had brought them enough for 100 families, but it was just too few…(sorrows)… it all was gone in one day… when I was on my way home late that night, almost at 1:00am, I was still heartbroken, I wanted to do more, I wanted to turn around and go back with whatever I could… (Voice breaks) …. I was also tired, but not only physically, but mentally, and in the heart… all those people; imagine! If in only one day we had had more than 100 families covered, and this was a minimum impact… multiply by four or five members… and lots of them are children, babies and elders, who cannot provide for themselves… The day to day is filled with mixed feelings, on one hand the pain and sadness of our brothers and sisters, and on the other hand the joy of being able to help in something.”
An opportunity to contemplate in action:
Sierra also sees this as an opportunity to reflect on the sense of humanity of both the victims and ourselves: “The anecdote that has touched us the most is the fact that the recipients of this aid are willing to offer us from the few they receive for us to have a lunch or dinner; this gesture has filled our eyes with tears.”
There sis till a lot of work to be done; people always help a lot when the catastrophes are recent and still visible on the news, but after a few, the help goes down dramatically…Without worrying of being mistaken, I believe that being Jesuit Alumni we are brought to a commitment with society in a higher degree than other people, that is why we will keep working to help… WE HAVE TO LOVE UNTIL IT HURTS AND DO EVERYTHING TO ACHIEVE THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD.”