In recent days, heavy rains have fallen in the province of Esmeraldas, in the northwest of Ecuador, causing six rivers to break their banks with consequent serious flooding that has affected 14,186 people, according to the National Secretariat for Risk Management. Initial estimates indicate that 2,895 homes, 21 schools and 7 health centres have been affected in the Atacames, Esmeraldas, Muisne, Quinindé and Rioverde areas.
Faced with this situation, the Salesian community in Esmeraldas has launched a “Giving is giving hope” campaign to collect non-perishable foods, clothes in good condition and basic necessities. Rooms at the Maria Auxiliadora Salesian educational unit (UESMA) have been transformed into a donation collection centre and in the attached parish a community canteen has been set up where about 200 lunches and dinners are prepared every day.
Thanks to the support of lay collaborators and a large group of volunteers, it was possible to provide food to dozens of families with few financial resources. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC), the province of Esmeraldas is the one with the highest levels of poverty in the coastal region of the country.
To help victims in a more efficient and coordinated way, Salesian solidarity initiatives are undertaken in coordination with the Apostolic Vicariate of Esmeraldas, the Secretariat of Catholic Education and with Caritas in the Vicariate.
The local community has come together to provide aid for one another, ensuring no-one is left behind.
Fr Robert García, Rector of the Salesian community in Esmeraldas, explains that the greatest damage occurred in the San Rafael Valley, an area that is under the pastoral care of the Salesians and where teachers, students and faithful linked to the community live. He adds that in this sector families have lost all their personal belongings because their homes have been covered with mud and water.
Fr García also reports that a social work team has been set up to visit the homes of UESMA teachers and students and people linked to the parish, in order to provide them with the necessary help.
Over these days, several Salesian communities and works in Ecuador have joined this solidarity effort and have taken action to collect products to meet the most urgent needs of the Esmeraldas population.
With thanks to ANS for this story