Quake Leaves Behind Daily Struggles in Coastal Ecuador

Perdenales(Wednesday June 29, 2016 Update)

ER recently received this report from Mariana López, who is working with the Hope and Faith School in Perdenales. ER is helping to rebuild the school thanks to the support of our donors.

By Mariana López

We have been to Pedernales several times since the earthquake, including trip on May 29.

People are trying to go back to their normal life activities, but there is an environment of concern everywhere. There is an extreme lack of tourists in the area, which is one of people´s major sources of income.

PerdenalesThe beaches are empty, only visited now by policeman who provide security, some inhabitants of Pedernales who decided to not leave, fishermen, peddlers and a small number of people from other cities who moved to the site to provide some help.

PerdenalesAccess roads and streets in the area are cracked, making it very difficult for the “moto-taxis” to provide transportation (that is the predominant means of transportation in Pedernales). In these circumstances, people are obliged to charge high prices for certain services such as food, transportation and Internet.

We could see that one of the few activities that are trying to return to normal is fishing; fishermen set sail despite the dangers that this activity brings, because it is their only source of income.

IMG_20160506_115820060Another important source of income was the hostels and hotels. But according to recent reports, 1,116 buildings were destroyed only in Pedernales, 87% of those were hosting sites.

PerdenalesIn the midst of destroyed places and people trying to revive their economy seeking ways to produce, this time we had the opportunity to deliver some clothes and awnings (screens) to mothers, children and their families. That opened the door for chatting and building relationships.

We also donated a kitchen and its gas tank to the mother of three of the kids of the school, they lost everything in the earthquake.

The work does not end. We hope to continue collaborating with many more families. This is the time when they need an outstretched hand.

Scroll below to read more about ER’s relief efforts. If you would like to contribute to our relief efforts, click here to donate through our U.S. office. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”. Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador!

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(Monday June 20, 2016 Update)

Gracelia'sER’s Paul Fernane, who is coordinating on-the-ground relief efforts in Ecuador, shared this update on ER Earthquake Relief Project #1: “These are pictures of Graciela’s (of ER Partner Casa de Dios) mother’s house lot being cleared and then soil testing being done. The soil testing is a new requirement in the building process.”

The people of coastal Ecuador endured great stress following the April 16 earthquake that destroyed so many homes, schools and infrastructure.  They’ve waited for resources, workers and governmental approvals in order to rebuild. Thank you for supporting these efforts!

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Ecuador Quake Relief Project 5

(Wednesday June 15, 2016 Update) Thanks to the generosity of our donors, Extreme Response is supporting a fifth relief project that will replace housing destroyed by the massive April 16 earthquake and aftershocks that rocked coastal Ecuador.  Our staff in Quito continue to seek out projects that can bring relief to those who have lost their homes, possessions, schools and more.

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In this project, the fifth that we have committed to so far, longtime ER friend Ron Borman brought a team and supplies to the coastal town of Mompiche where he works with the Cofan Indians. The area was severely impacted by the earthquake and many families are without housing.

In this project, the fifth that we have committed to so far, longtime ER friend Ron Borman brought a team and supplies to the coastal town of Mompiche where he works with the Cofan Indians. The area was severely impacted by the earthquake and many families are without housing.

DSCF3584Ecuador Quake Relief Project 5

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Ron shared this update: “Our trip to Mompiche went very well. Our team helped build 3 bamboo houses. We also spent time with the people of this community, handing out donations and doing a kids program.

We want to thank Extreme Response for its support, which covered the cost of building one home and wiring 3 more.”

ER is currently working to schedule projects and short-term teams into 2017 to help with rebuilding. To learn more about ER short-term teams, click here.

Scroll below to see some of our other projects and the relief work we did immediately after the earthquake.

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(Wednesday June 8, 2016 Update)

Construction Resuming For Family Hit By Second Quake
13096353_10209938353920499_7297949368350079720_nER’s Paul Fernane shares this update from Perdenales, a coastal town in Ecuador that was near the epicenter of the April 16 7.8-magnitude earthquake. The Buenaventura family (parents of Fabian and Graciela – ER partner Casa de Dios) lost their home. Construction began on a new home, only to have a second quake damage it and their shrimp farm again. They’ve been living in tents while trying to rebuild their home and repair the dykes. Through our supporters, ER continues to help the family. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the relief work!

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(Wednesday June 1, 2016)

Quake Survivor: “It’s just stuff… I still have my life”

By Jeramy Hing

Jeramy Hing is one of several ER staff members who participated in three relief teams to the earthquake-impacted coastal area of Ecuador. The first major quake was followed by numerous aftershocks, making recovery slow and dangerous. ER continues to invest in the recovery. Following are some insightful observations Jeramy collected from his experience.

13077068_1460825013943815_1272329349991789792_n“It’s just stuff… I still have my life,” said one 68-year-old woman after being told she would not be allowed to re-enter her home to recover anything. This attitude was quite common among the people we encountered in the aftermath of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the coastal region of Ecuador on Saturday, April 16, 2016.

13043421_1461041853922131_6625892823873349172_nIt was such an optimistic response to such a devastating situation. But how far does this sentiment reach into the hearts and souls of the survivors? Is this just shock or maybe a natural reaction to having just escaped death? What encouragement can be given for the days ahead that each survivor faces as they experience the challenges of starting over from scratch with nothing, and many having lost family or friends? What incentive is there to persevere and what motivates us to engage with people at a personal level and provide hope?

We cannot fully comprehend the complexities of such travesties. Rebuilding projects are likely to go on for quite some time ahead. As time goes on, the reality of loss will begin to show its long-term effects on people. In fact, as I write this we have already experienced numerous aftershocks larger than 4.5 and two above 6.7.

13102648_1466455853380731_37491912907242454_nOn one occasion I was with my colleague Pete Emery in the coastal town of Pedernales helping a family of one of Extreme Response’s partners (Casa de Dios) rebuild their home that was lost in the first earthquake. They were so thankful and encouraged by our presence, which was apparent by the hope in their eyes and the way that they engaged with us.

13124869_10209938380841172_3917687609148134070_nWe had dinner with them every night in their makeshift shack, and on one night during an aftershock the grandmother began trembling and needed comfort from other family members. We learned that she was in the house when it collapsed the first time and had to be dug out of the wreckage.

13083224_10209938355680543_4020640691789684034_nWe left that family with a fully built structure and a roof (scroll below to read about them), and some money to have the finish work done by a professional contractor. Unfortunately, during the 6.8-magnitude aftershock that hit on May 18, 2016 (one month later), their home and shrimp farm was damaged again when a dam broke during the earthquake. Extreme Response team members have been in touch with the family and we are continuing to offer support and encouragement.

13043669_1461058693920447_1443797891599372911_nHonestly, it is through meaningful relationships and willingness to walk alongside of people during their ups and downs that life-changing hope and perseverance is nurtured. The people I met on our relief trips, and many more just like them, have had an equally profound impact on me.

However, the thing that spurs me to action is the desire to have the most profound impact on the survivors’ lives going forward. Our family is so grateful for the opportunity that Extreme Response, our partners and the people we serve provide us in being a part of changing lives.

Jeramy and his wife Teresa hale from mid-Michigan and have been serving in Ecuador for five years. They have been serving as teachers, overseeing ER’s information technology and helping with Christmas teams and special projects.

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(Tuesday May 31, 2016)

Quake-Damaged School Now Demolished in Ecuador
The Faith and Hope School in Perdenales was damaged so badly by the April 16, 2016, 7.8-magnitude earthquake that it became a safety hazard and needed to be torn down. ER staff inquired as to how we could help.

2011-04-10 21.18.54Our contacts at the school told us the building was a danger to kids who might play in the ruins. They also indicated that it was not able to be salvaged, so the biggest need was for the school to be demolished. We told them we would like to provide the funds for the heavy equipment needed for the demolition.

IMG_20160507_140828626Here is one of the reasons we are supporting this project. Extreme Response coordinated a short-term construction team from a church in Pennsylvania that helped build the church. The church remains interested in, and supportive of, the Faith and Hope school to this day.

IMG_20160507_140909859_HDRThe next step is to clear the debris from the site. Once the site is cleared, school administrators will need to hire an architect, submit plans for an earthquake-resistant design, obtain government approvals and then start rebuilding. ER plans to support these efforts and, when possible, send short-term teams to help with the reconstruction.

2011-04-10 21.10.33Many thanks to ER supporters for funding the demolition. We’ll provide updates on the new school as it progresses through the design, approval and construction phases.

Scroll below to our May 6, 2016, update to see more about the Faith and Hope School and ER’s other plans to help earthquake victims.

Extreme Response’s Russ Cline had the opportunity to visit the school just prior to it being demolished and shared this short video.

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(Thursday May 19, 2016)
13151942_10209938364160755_7001256383117497498_nIf you’ve been following our posts, you saw a story about ER helping a family rebuild its home, which was demolished on April 16 by the 7.8 quake. Yesterday the family was hit AGAIN when the second of two new quakes hit the coast. Their shrimp farm was severely compromised. Today, they are scrambling for both housing and a way to repair the shrimp farm.

Here’s a report from ER’s Pete Emery, who worked on repairing the home:

13124869_10209938380841172_3917687609148134070_n“Just got word a few hours ago that the house we were building in the pictures below got taken out in the second earthquake today. The shrimp farm dike broke and they are trying to repair it. Very sad and discouraging for all of us. That is the soul income and now they are very afraid. Please pray for this family and others affected. Thankfully, no one was hurt or killed.”

ER is sending staff to the coast to see how we can help. Watch this blog for updates.

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(Wednesday May 18, 2016)

Two Quakes Rock Ecuador Coast, Killing One, Injuring Dozens

According to ABC News, “two powerful earthquakes jolted Ecuador on Wednesday, causing one death and injuring dozens. Neither appeared to have caused serious damage but the government decided to cancel school nationwide as a precaution. In Guayaquil, office workers fled into the streets after the second quake. Both tremors were centered along the Pacific coast near the epicenter of last month’s magnitude-7.8 quake and rattled homes as far away as the capital, Quito.

“Wednesday’s initial shake was a magnitude-6.7 quake that struck before 3 a.m., and that was followed by a 6.8 tremor around midday. President Rafael Correa said one person died in Manabi province in confusing circumstances that were still being investigated. At least 85 people were injured, two of them seriously.”

Several of our Quito-based staffers awoke about 3 a.m. this morning feeling the impact of the first trembler that hit the coast of Ecuador. All of our staff members are safe.

Earlier in the morning, NBC News shared the following:

“An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 struck Ecuador early Wednesday, rattling an area still recovering from last month’s disastrous quake but causing only limited damage.

Image: Map showing location of Ecuador earthquake

A map showing the location of Wednesday’s earthquake in Ecuador. USGS

The epicenter was 36 miles south of Esmeraldas at a depth of about seven miles, the USGS said. No tsunami alert was issued and Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa said there were no reports of major damage from the quake, which struck at 3 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET).

“It was a big shake and all of us were scared but there are no major problems at the moment,” said Jorge Zambrano, mayor of the coastal city of Manta.”

USA Today added this: A 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Ecuador on Wednesday near the area where a 7.8 quake last month killed hundreds of people and caused widespread damage.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was 21 miles from the town of Muisne in western Ecuador. Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president, tweeted there were no early reports of damage. There were also no immediate reports of injuries.

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(Friday May 6, 2016)

13102648_1466455853380731_37491912907242454_nToday ER sent Paul Fernane of our Quito team to the coast to meet with partner Casa de Dios and survey the earthquake impact zone for needs that we can meet.  Based on feedback from our first three relief teams and partners, we’ve identified five projects to pursue. After we receive Paul’s first-hand report next week, we will firm up these plans.

Here’s what we are considering as of today:

1. Help to rebuild a home for a family in Perdenales. The home was destroyed by the earthquake. As of today, we estimate the cost for this project will be about $10,000.

2.  Supply the remaining building materials needed to finish the home being rebuilt in Perdenales next to the shrimp farm (see May 2 Blog entry).  We estimate the cost for this to be about $1,500.

3.  Help meet the needs of a family in Perdenales whose home was completely destroyed, but has an opportunity to move into another house that needs some repairs.  We need to inspect this project, but our initial “rough” estimate is $2,500.

PastedGraphic-1-1 copy 24. There is a school in Perdenales that was destroyed by the earthquake. Yesterday we committed $2,000 to tear down the damaged structure and remove the rubble to make it safe for the community. From there, we need to hire an engineer to produce plans for a new school building. Rebuilding the school could take a year.  We won’t have cost estimates for a while, but this is a project that will require the help of several organizations.

20160426_1212455. Food, Water and Hygiene Kits. We will be working with Pan de Vida, Inca Link and other organizations in Quito to determine what relief needs still need to be met in the hardest hit areas.  Our plan is to use a combination of local food drives and purchased items to create a a bulk distribution. This would likely take place within the next two weeks.

13096080_10209877878768658_6798257145547821144_nThe road to recovery will be long and grueling for coastal Ecuador. According to the United Nations News Centre,  660 deaths have been recorded thus far. Spokespeople for Ecuador said the country’s call for $72.7 million in financial assistance has received little support and the United Nations humanitarian aid wing is urging donors to contribute to projects that benefit the affected people.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that nearly 7,000 buildings have been destroyed and 560 schools have been affected, with 166 of them suffering medium to severe damage. Health assistance has been provided to 513,762 people, including 4,605 injured during the first 72 hours of the emergency, and the number of people in shelters has decreased to 22,754.

Emergency relief is giving way to rebuilding housing, schools, and infrastructure. If you would like to contribute to ER’s relief efforts, click here to donate through our U.S. office. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”. Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador!

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13083224_10209938355680543_4020640691789684034_n(Monday May 2, 2016)

ER’s third relief team returned late Saturday safely, having delivered building materials and other supplies for the construction of a home. They also got hands on to help rebuild the structure. Pete Emery share this update:

“Jeremy Hing and I made it to pastor Fabián’s parent’s place. As you can 13095894_10209938504644267_8064453135332288429_nsee they lost their home. They live and work a shrimp farm in a remote area on the (Ecuadorian) coast. We had to take a canoe ride through the mangroves to get materials to their place.

We cut the beams with a chainsaw and used our generator for electricity. Fabián brought some teens from their youth group to help. They were great helpers.

13076865_10209938512004451_8149168587771735173_nIt was crazy hot, muddy and buggy, but there was not a word of complaint as we worked long after dark and were up again at sunrise. I was really impressed with that group of kids.

We also spent our evenings talking about how blessed we all are. It is quite amazing that the family just lost most everything and barely escaped with their lives as they were buried under their house. We were so blessed their faith. We go to bless and end up being blessed.

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13124869_10209938380841172_3917687609148134070_nThanks to many who donated to Extreme Response. We were able to get most the framing done and the roof on. We were also able to leave them enough funds to get the home livable again.”

ER is working with partner Casa de Dios located in Pacoche, Ecuador, to help people directly impacted by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that destroyed much a tremendous number of homes, schools, retail establishments and infrastructure on coastal Ecuador on the night of April 16. Our third relief team went to Perdenales to help rebuild the home of a family of shrimp farmers whose home was destroyed. The family includes the parents of Casa de Dios director Fabián Buenaventura.

The road to recovery will be long and grueling for coastal Ecuador. If you would like to contribute to ER’s relief efforts,  click here to donate through our U.S. office. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.  Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador!

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(Friday April 29, 2016)

13095765_1466319376727712_6934227699108088882_nExtreme Response’s third relief team traveled to the coastal town of Perdenales, which hit extreme hard by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 16.

ER’s Pete Emery and Jeramy Hing went to great heights to deliver building materials and help reconstruct a home that was destroyed by the Ecuador earthquake. Perdenales is largely uninhabitable following the earthquake.

ER is working with partner Casa de Dios to help distribute relief supplies and identify rebuilding projects.

13087781_1466314563394860_138865576449307834_nCNBC is reporting that “Ecuador’s President, Rafael Correa, has estimated the cost of damage at $3 billion or 3 percentage points of the country’s gross domestic product, according to political risk consultancy, Teneo Intelligence.” The news organization also reported that Ecuador has asked the International Monetary Fund for a loan of $368 million in aid.

Scroll below for additional recent earthquake coverage.

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(Thursday April 28, 2016)

13083354_1465670493459267_1571778843951895816_nMore than 280 schools have been damaged by the earthquake that hit Ecuador on April 16, leaving at least 120,000 children temporarily without education, the according to UNICEF (UN’s Children’s Fund). The death toll from the quake is at least 654, 12,492 were injured and 26,000+ are living in shelters, according to Ecuador’s Risk Management Office.

Yesterday, ER’s Pete Emery and Jeramy Hing loaded building materials onto “ERnie”, our Quito work truck that is used by volunteer teams for building projects. They got up super early this morning to make the long drive to Perdenales, a coastal town severely damaged 13100885_1465931143433202_3651895364389643543_nby the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit Ecuador on April 16.

This is ER’s third relief team. The goal of this trip is to provide materials and support for the construction of a home and to deliver supplies to a school. We are working with partner Casa de Dios.

Another long-time ER partner, Pan de Vida, shared this update yesterday on its relief efforts.

The road to recovery will be long and grueling for coastal Ecuador. If you would like to contribute to ER’s relief efforts,  click here to donate through our U.S. office. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.  Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador!

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(Wednesday April 27, 2016)

Our third relief team has packed supplies to depart tomorrow at 4 a.m. for Perdanales on Ecuador’s coast, bringing building materials for a small home and supplies to help a local school. It will be a challenging trip for the team members, who plan to sleep in tents because the area has endured tremendous destruction. The team will be working through ER partner Casa de Dios.

Today we also share this story posted in the Lapeer County Press by author Krystal Johns. Lapeer, Michigan, is hometown of ER’s Jeramy and Teresa Hing. The Hings now reside and serve in Quito, Ecuador.

13094246_1465136416846008_5075453241986791522_n (1)Former Lapeer couple help Ecuador earthquake victims
by KRYSTAL JOHNS
810-452-2609 * kjohns@mihomepaper.com
QUITO, Ecuador — A 7.8-magnitude earthquake rattled Ecuador on April 16, killing hundreds and destroying homes and other property. A Lapeer County man living in Quito — about 100 miles from the epicenter — is now helping out in the aftermath.
Jeramy and Teresa Hing moved to Ecuador almost five years ago, after taking several mission trips there. They integrated into a neighborhood and Teresa works full-time as an aide at a local school while Jeramy does missionary work for Extreme Response International’s team. They credit their integration with allowing them constant opportunities to minister to others, more so than if they’d stayed on the fringes as other missionaries might do. They are raising their children Easton and Haven, and the kids participate in the ministry as well, which revolves largely around the people who live and work in the Zambiza dump.
When the earthquake struck, the Hings were in a four-story building, constructing a dining room table as a family.
“At first it started off smooth, kind of like swaying on a boat. The kids came running over to us and we huddled like usual during these events,” said Jeramy, adding that earthquakes occur frequently there. “But it kept going longer than usual. As I looked at Teresa and the kids, I thought that it could begin to get worse and the building may collapse, so I probably should tell them that I love them in case we were in danger and we don’t have another chance. At the same time, I didn’t want to frighten them any more than necessary, so I didn’t speak up.”
After a minute or two, the shaking stopped.
13055314_1465139826845667_5559760213623403083_n“We didn’t know what the overall impact on the country was until about two hours later when we got home and started reading the news,” Jeramy said.
Extreme Response leadership was all in the United States attending a seminar, so staff on the ground in Ecuador formed a plan, and they headed to Portoviejo to assist with recovery efforts, loading, unloading and delivering food, water and medical supplies.
“The effects of the devastation was apparent not only in Portoviejo but in surrounding areas as we traveled,” Jeramy said. “Buildings and walls collapsed, people in the streets of main highways lined up with empty bottles begging for water and food. As we entered the populated cities, there were police and military barricades everywhere and people scrambling to recover whatever they could from the rubble… But what will remain etched in my mind for years to come is the stench of death throughout the city, especially when we passed a soccer stadium where we were told bodies were being piled up for identification.”
He said the death toll — reported at 654 as of press time — is “severely deficient, and not up-to-date.”
Jeramy and his team returned to Quito on Sunday morning. He’s been busy updating supporters and churches, and preparing for another trip, this time closer to the epicenter. They will be taking additional food and water supplies, but the main objective will be taking construction materials and tools to build a temporary shelter.
He said he hasn’t really had time to process what he’s experienced.
“I think that I have shut down some immediate emotional reactions in order to remain useful to the tasks at hand,” he said. “I can say that I am impressed by the glimmer of hope each survivor exhibits when you speak with them. They express so much gratitude for the help they are receiving. It is amazing to think that these people have lost so much, been through so much, and have so many challenges ahead of them, yet they display a resiliency that I admire. Everything about this disaster speaks to the fragility of life in a way that brings our transient existence into full view. It makes me take a step back and reevaluate my priorities, as it should for all people.”

The story above appears in today’s Lapeer County Press.

If you would like to contribute to ER’s relief efforts,  click here to donate through our U.S. office. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.  Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador!

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(Tuesday April 26, 2016) With our first two relief teams having returned to Quito for rest and recovery, we are now planning future aid to the victims of the 7.8-magnitude quake that hit the coast of Ecuador on April 16. See below for some of the statistical updates.

As of today, Extreme Response is preparing a third relief team to depart later this week. Members from the first two teams have identified a project to provide shelter for a family that lost 13094146_10209877852968013_5642180937831248490_ntheir home to the earthquake. We will be working with partner Casa de Dios on this project. Stay tuned for updates.

As response teams shift from rescue and immediate relief, organizations inside and outside of Ecuador are strategizing on how to provide sustainable relief. The UN has announced its desire to help by providing food for about 250,000 people. Samaritan’s Purse has established a field hospital and has treated hundreds of earthquake survivors. ER partner Pan de Vida and affiliate Inca Link have been collecting and distributing aid for several days.

On Monday April 25, 2016, CNN provided this update on the on the impact of 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the coastal region of Ecuador on April 16:

*The death toll climbed to 654 Saturday evening, according to Ecuador’s Risk 12990983_1006120329464314_4862777837003126979_nManagement Office.

*58 people remain missing

*12,492 are injured

*26,091 people remain in shelters

Separately, there are many outcomes of the earthquake that tug at our heartstrings. For example, did you hear 12993627_10153324109091920_7260522920317462_nabout the search dog who died helping find people in the rubble?

If you would like to contribute to our relief efforts,  click here to donate through our U.S. office. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.  Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador who have been severely impacted by this earthquake!

Scroll below for additional coverage.

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13062483_10103394409383388_2469229883453574639_n(Sunday April 24, 2016) Both of ER’s relief teams have returned to Quito from the coast of Ecuador having delivered all of their supplies and helping many people in need. The second team was able to load of an entire bus with seven tons of additional supplies and deliver them. It took the team 22 hours to make the delivery roundtrip.

As of this morning, the death toll from the earthquake has risen to 654, with 12,492 injured and 29,061 living in temporary shelters, according to CNN. The coastal area also has received more than 700 aftershocks.

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Jeramy Hing connects with a machine driver who was clearing rubble.

The supplies are now in the hands of ER partner Casa de Dios, which has a secure building in Pacoche where they will store the food, water and other life-sustaining items. Casa de Dios provides several humanitarian and community development services to the neediest people in Pacoche, such as food distribution, construction projects, educational and outreach programs and water cisterns.

ER is committed to working with Casa de Dios and helping the people of the Pacoche area recover. This week we will be evaluating both short- and long-term needs to determine how ER staff,  volunteers and supporters can best help going forward. Our two relief teams saw the devastation first-hand, so we will have solid insight on what to do next.

13087860_1461058740587109_6476339855946362467_nWe will need your help to provide ongoing support. We know from experience (earthquakes in Nepal and Haiti and ) that disasters create a broad spectrum of needs that vary from community to community. We also know that people will need help for many months (or years) as rebuilding homes and infrastructure takes time.

To donate in the US, click here. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.  Thank you for helping the people of Ecuador who have been impacted by this earthquake!

Scroll below for additional coverage.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–13055391_1461042187255431_2833567305269071092_n(Friday April 22, 2016) Our second relief team is prepped and ready to roll early Saturday morning. The goal is to provide life-protecting supplies to the victims of Ecuador’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake and numerous after-shocks. They’ve already purchased the 7 tons of supplies, packed them for transport and will load them shortly.

(Friday April 22, 2016) Our second relief team is prepped and ready to roll early Saturday morning. The goal is to provide life-protecting supplies to the victims of Ecuador’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake and numerous after-shocks. They’ve already purchased the 7 tons of supplies, packed them for transport and will load them shortly.

The team is headed to Pacoche, an area on the edge of the earthquake destruction, but still intact. We’ll be working with ER partner Casa de Dios, an organization that has a secure facility that will serve as a distribution point for the supplies.

13078072_10103393790343948_501853255_oHere’s a partial list of what the team is bringing: 2000 pieces of bread, 480 large cans of tuna, 580 kilos of rice, 1600 gallons of water, 640 cracker packets, 40 bags of instant milk, 13 kilo of peanuts, 16 kilo of noodles, 500 trash bags, 2500 plastic cups and 240 candles. Add in a few hundred bags of popcorn and additional supplies, and it will be a tight fit on the transport, according to Ben Baumer, who is heading up the second team.

13059651_10103393789939758_86641302_nSeparately, our first relief team that departed earlier this week is distributing the last of its supplies in Pacoche. The coastal area of Ecuador continues to be rocked by earthquakes and aftershocks. The team has reported feeling seven aftershocks where they were working today.

News coverage of the disaster has been weak. However, here are some of the latest stats, according to Reuters:

*602+ people are dead

13051638_10153331194661920_8665075945511552565_n*12,492 injured

*130 are missing

*26,000 are living in shelters

*700+ aftershocks have been recorded

*7,000 buildings are destroyed

ER-logo-reg-full-color-portrait_HRHow to help
ER is committed to working with Casa de Dios and helping the people of Pacoche recover. But we need your help in order to continue providing support. To donate in the US, click here. In Canada, click here. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.  Thank you for your help!

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URGENT, DIRE HELP NEEDED FOR EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS!

ER exists to help people living in extreme, sometimes LIFE-THREATENING situations.

13001224_1006234776119536_7416088189805743641_n(Thursday April 21, 2016) Today we are shouting the “LIFE-THREATENING” portion of our mission statement because people in Ecuador are DYING and we are compelled to help. We are asking for your immediate, generous support in order to respond.
 
13015340_1006193326123681_6346500706461780100_nLast night our relief team reported conditions in coastal Ecuador are far worse that we had hoped. Earthquake victims are so desperate for food and water that robbery and chaos are ruling the moment. CNN reports today that 570 have died, 7,015 are injured and 155 are missing. These numbers will rise.
 
Our team is safe, but out of supplies. Today they will use the last $1,000 of their funds to purchase food and water and deliver them to our partner in Pacoche, which will serve as our distribution hub.
 
ER staff and friends load a truck with supplies for the relief trip to the coast.
ER staff and friends load a truck with supplies for the relief trip to the coast.

We have a plan

In response to our relief team’s first-hand report and their pleas to do more, we are preparing a second relief team RIGHT NOW. They are purchasing $4,000 of food, water, medical supplies and blankets. Our plan is to take these supplies to our partner Casa de Dios in Pacoche, which has a secure building. The supplies will be stored there and distributed to people who are in dire straights.
 
We are using the last of our cash on hand in Quito to purchase these supplies. We are asking for your urgent support to allow us to fund these relief teams and future relief work that will take place in the days and months ahead.
 
How to help
To give in the US, click here. In Canada, click here. Designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.
 
For our friends living in Quito, you are welcome to bring non-perishable food, bottled water and medical supplies to ER or to Pan de Vida, an ER partner that also is preparing to deliver supplies.
 
Thank you for caring for these people. With your support, we can bring survival and hope to those in desperate need!

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***To Donate in the U.S. click here. To donate in Canada, click here.***

ER staff and friends load a truck with supplies for the relief trip to the coast.
Staff load a truck with supplies for the relief trip to the coast. A team of volunteers left Quito for an area that was heavily impacted by the earthquake.

Note: A new 6.1 quake hit early Wednesday morning off the coast of Ecuador.  Click here for breaking details. 

A team of a dozen or so volunteers left Quito early Wednesday morning to head for Portoviejo, and area heavily impacted by the earthquake.

Team leader Pete Emery shared this update: “Packed to go Portoviejo, one of the hardest hit cities from the earthquake. Hope to spend the next four days there. Much prayer needed. Not the safest place to go to right now. Thanks to so many who gave us a couple of trucks full of supplies. The truck will be escorted by police and we will meet up with the us there hopefully.”

Please keep the team in your thoughts. There are challenges with robberies, confiscations, poor road conditions and checkpoints where some relief volunteers are being turned around.

The good news is all ER staff and partners are safe. The majority of our staff live in or near Quito, 100+ miles from the epicenter of the massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the western coast of Ecuador around 7 p.m. Saturday night.

The bad news is this Ecuador’s worst disaster in 60 years with 500+ people having died thus far and more than 4,000 have been injured, as reported by CNN . Infrastructure has been decimated for miles.

ER’s small team is traveling by vehicle from our base in Quito to the western 12994564_10153324109136920_212059949835403953_ncoastal region where many are struggling with basic supplies. The team will assess short- and long-term needs of the region so we can plan additional support. The team is traveling with other volunteers from the area.

ER partner Casa de Dios is located in Pacoche, which is within the quake zone. Our contacts Fabian and Graciela are safe, but they are surrounded towns that have crumbled buildings, broken roads, landslides and more. Fabian has confirmed great destruction in their his parent’s home town.

Extreme Response intends to help Casa de Dios help its neighbors 12985625_10153324109096920_2857662717022330303_nwho are victims of the earthquake. As our advance team collects details, we will share them in this blog. In the meantime, we are asking for donations to cover immediate costs for food, water, gasoline, blankets and other emergency supplies. This will be followed by longer-term help.

Watch the ER blog for updates during the next few weeks.

Click here to donate to our response. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.

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Photo: Agency France Presse

ER partner Casa de Dios is located in Pachoche, which is within the quake zone. Our contacts Fabian and Graciela are safe, but they are surrounded towns that have crumbled buildings, broken roads, landslides and more.

Extreme Response intends to help Casa de Dios help its neighbors. As we receive details, we are asking for donations to help provide immediate assistance (food, water, shelter) for those facing imminent danger. This will be followed by longer-term help.

BBrRSDF
Photo: Agency France Presse

ER partner Casa de Dios is located in Pachoche, which is within the quake zone. Our contacts Fabian and Graciela are safe, but they are surrounded towns that have crumbled buildings, broken roads, landslides and more.

If you would like to donate to this disaster response,  visit http://www.extremeresponse.org/donate-now. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.

BBrS0rp
Photo: Agency France Presse

Fast Track: Sebastian Learns To Read

Erica Recalde helps Sebastion learn to read
Erica Recalde helps Sebastian learn to read.

ER’s Robbie Murdock shares this story about how one boy’s life will be changed forever because of the work that takes in the After-School Program at the Quito Family Resource Center.

DSC_0779Sebastian has been part of our after school program since September of 2014 when he started first grade. This year we started to notice that he was behind. While the other kids in his grade were reading and writing by themselves, Sebastian couldn’t recognize even the letters that made up the words he was trying to read. Writing was not even an option. The result of being behind meant he was constantly frustrated during homework time. He was regularly acting out and causing problems. It was also nearly impossible for him to do his homework without one of our teachers sitting down next to him and writing out his answers for him to copy.
When we got his grades from school we realized that the problem was worse than we thought. His teacher was ignoring how behind he was and giving him passing grades in every course. For Sebastian to finish this year and go on to the third grade without the ability to read and write would spell disaster, so we decided to take action.
We began a lesson plan to work on his letter recognition and his reading skills immediately. Our teacher Erika would spend about a half hour before our program working hard with Sebastian, and it was amazing how quickly the results came. Within a month of working with him one-on-one, Sebastian was able to write words that we said to him.
He still has a long way to go. He struggles with reading comprehension and still needs to work at spelling independently, but we are confident that he is going to move on to the third grade and succeed.
Click here to learn more about the kids of Dump families, and how we are providing them with help and hope.

The Comeback Kid

Jason left home at a young age, deciding that Manila street life was preferable to living with an abusive and negligent father.

He scavenged garbage for recyclers and sold illegally acquired tickets to sporting events and concerts. He had not been to school since he was in fifth grade, but deep down, he had a dream to finish his studies.

untitled-461
Jason, middle, with his mother and brother.

Three years ago, Jason began a remarkable comeback story when he learned about Support A Child Community Learning Center, a new ER partner in Quezon City, a Manila suburb.

Along with other street children and out-of-school youth, Jason enrolled in Alternative Learning System (ALS), a non-formal education plan operated by Support a Child and other organizations for the local Department of Education.

Jason failed his first ALS exam. But he didn’t learn to survive on the street without a streak of tenacity, and he put that to use in his new studies. He continued his education and ultimately passed the entrance exam for Working Hands, a vocational skills program in which he took up computer literacy training.

Today Jason, 18, is one of SCSF’s junior staff members for serving street children, and is active in the organization’s youth discipleship program. In March he graduated from Working Hands with certification in computer technology. There to witness his accomplishment were his older brother and his mother, Lyn, whom he not seen in some 15 years. She made a 36-hour trip by boat to be with her son for the occasion.

Jason now is embarking on an on-the-job training initiative that will enhance his computer skills and prepare him for a career in computers.

Meanwhile he’ll continue to serve street children, and he has expressed interest in becoming a pastor

Considering the determination he’s exhibited in his young life so far, he’ll achieve that goal too. And he’ll surely be an inspiration to many.

Joy in the Moment, and in Dreams for Tomorrow

By Alyssa Carrel
ER Volunteer to South Africa

KayleenCollageChildren are known for their wild imaginations, the stories they create, the way they dream. But for a child growing up in poverty, dreams are a luxury they typically can’t afford.

That’s why the South Africa Dream Centre is so important to children like Kayleen.

This adorable little spitfire from Zimbabwe is a joy to be around. Consider this recent snippet of conversation:

Me: “Do you like school?”

Kayleen: “Nope.”

Me: “Why not?”

Kayleen: “It’s a lot of work.”

I think we can all relate. Her honest answers mirror that of the typical 6-year-old, but don’t be fooled: This girl knows how to work.

I have been privileged to watch Kayleen in action, and let me tell you, when she puts her mind to something, she gets it done. For example, one day I watched her, surrounded by the sort of distractions that come with the territory in an after-school children’s program, set laser-like focus on a story she was reading about go-karts; she didn’t look up until she read the final word.

12990937_10153313540136920_5514965140625868706_nI was impressed. If she can maintain that kind of focus, she’ll go far – despite odds that are stacked against her. Living in South Africa, Kayleen is part of a system that puts the expense of education in the hands of the parents. And many of those hands are occupied with finding work to keep food on the table and a roof over their families’ heads. Education is viewed as a luxury, not a necessity.

South Africa has 11 official languages, but most teaching is done in English. For Kayleen and many other children, English is a second, third or even fourth language, which makes homework a struggle. If the parents haven’t learned English, it can be downright impossible.

TownsendsThat’s where the Dream Centre seeks to fill in the gaps. Run by ER staffers Ron and Amy Townsend (pictured here with their children), the Dream Centre is a safe place for Cape Town-area kids to receive food, love, tutoring and the chance to dream of a future free of poverty.

The Townsends are fully invested in this venture. They desire to live life alongside these kids – to see them through graduation and on to college. Their hope is that by working with and loving on the children, their families also will be positively impacted.

While much of this is a vision toward the future, I have already experienced the impact they’re having on families today. I have seen parents pour out their hearts with gratitude to the Townsends for all they do for their children. Love is a powerful communicator. It needs no translation.

The Townsends – and the rest of the Dream Centre team – want these kids to know, above all else, that they are loved. They’re teaching families that there’s more to life than just survival – that poverty can be overcome and dreams can be realized.

Click here to read more about the Townsends and the Dream Centre.

13123282_10206286116772765_8630721288641540759_oAlyssa Carrel is native to Michigan. She’s passionate about the written word, children, South Africa and the melodies. Alyssa is native to Michigan. Alyssa visited Extreme Response Africa and spent time working at the Dream Centre, where she worked with at-risk kids in the after-school program.

Mother’s Day in Owa Owa: Pregnant Teens Get Support

IMG_0017
Ignite South Africa helps at-risk kids in Owa Owa.

By Aimee Hurtubise

IMG_3796Canadian Aimee Hurtubise is helping to change lives through Ignite South Africa. Extreme Response Canada is pleased to be the sending organization for Aimee.

The first time I drove into Owa Owa, South Africa, I knew I was home.  I still feel that way 10 years later. Although I have spent half of the last decade living in Canada, the moment I moved back to Owa Owa last year I knew I had returned to a place that will always be my home away from home.

Owa Owa is a place filled with challenges, endless potential, cold winters and the warmest people. It is where I get to make a difference in the lives of orphaned and at-risk youth while being surrounded by my African family, and I can’t imagine doing life any other way.

I am able to do this work through Ignite South Africa. This organization is dedicated to developing leaders of all ages and empowering them to impact their schools, communities, country and homes.

Ignite
Ignite teaches life and business skills to at-risk kids.

Many young women in Owa Owa struggle with unplanned pregnancies. The girls typically range in age from 13-18, although I’ve seen them as young as 12. Most will keep their babies because adoption is seen in a very negative light in our community, although we will walk with the girls through either parenting or adoption.

Statistically, 25% will be HIV positive and suffer from hunger and poor nutrition. Those who will be staying with us have no where else to live. They are afraid, alone and overwhelmed. If they are orphaned or have been kicked out of their home for being pregnant, they also may be dealing with abandonment issues.

While there are no accurate statistics on teenage pregnancies in our area, we believe they are on the rise. There are flyers advertising “safe” illegal abortions on every pole, board or free space in our community. So many girls choose abortion because there is no support for them should they decide to become a parent or gift their child through adoption. We want to provide an alternative and make parenting a viable option for these girls.

House of Refuge

IMG_0025The Ntlo ya Setshabelo (House of Refuge) is a maternity home for orphaned or at-risk pregnant teens that we are in the process of developing. Our vision is to offer a place of safety, mentoring and encouragement to provide a solid foundation.

The girls who enter our program will be in intermediate or high school, have limited or no support from their families and must agree to fully participate in the home’s practices. This means they want to learn how to be a good mom and are willing to put in the effort.

The girls will be expected to continue their education and attend classes designed to help their development, including budgeting and life/parenting/small business skills needed to help support their families. We try to offer everything they will need to parent on their own. Our goal is to see them graduate as capable and confident mothers who will positively impact their children and their communities.

Our mentoring program will connect each girl with an older female from the community who can guide and support them. Each girl will begin this relationship while living in the home with the hope it will continue throughout her lifetime.

Ignites’ Executive Director June Blanshan shares this background on why we are introducing the the home.

“We decided to move forward with the home when we discovered that the girls were experiencing abuse and manipulation by providing sex in exchange for food, toiletries and other items. Their situations already appeared hopeless, but adding pregnancy into the mix made these girls feel trapped. Often they choose ‘safe, pain-free abortions’, which translates into illegal abortions. We believe the death rate, sterility and other complications from these unregulated clinics to be astronomically high.”

The Story of Mpho

Blanshan also shares this story about a girl who Ignite helped.

Mpho (named changed to protect her privacy) was planning to end her pregnancy as she was already was struggling to support her three-year-old child. It was difficult for her to even to put food on their table and most days they did not have electricity. She was HIV positive and the father refused to be involved. She was alone and scared.

“One of our Ignite leaders knew her and shared about adoption. I was called in to talk with Mpho because I had gifted a child for adoption. Mpho was excited about this opportunity and decided adoption would be a good choice for her.  We promised to walk alongside her and help her connect with services in the community.

“Unfortunately, Mpho’s delivered her baby the next week, prior to contacting social workers. She informed the nurses and a hospital social worker of her intent to place her child for adoption and therefore she did not want to see the baby.  The response was…I’m sure you can guess.

“Mpho was basically ignored, or when spoken to, demeaned. The social worker and nurses were downright cruel. Finally, the social worker informed Mpho she would be in the hospital for six months if she wanted to adopt her baby because that was how long court time would take. Mpho already had a child at home who needed to be cared for, so this was not an option. The social worker sat down with us and shared a ‘secret’. If Mpho said she would keep her baby, they would discharge her. What she did with the child after that was completely up to her.

“Mpho chose that option and we cared for her baby as she thought through what she wanted to do. After a week she decided to keep and raise her baby. We remain involved with the family and help as we can. All three are doing well.”

Based on this experience, we decided to provide the support systems and identify other community support for the young mothers. Currently, my efforts are focused on building a solid foundation for the home. This includes applying for grants and fundraising to allow us to purchase and furnish the actual dwelling. Our goal is to open our doors to our first pregnant teens by the end of 2016.

IMG_3796Interested in helping Aimee? Contact her via email, follow her on Facebook or click here to partner with Ignite South Africa.

Paul Cripps Courage Award: Rich Brown, Inca Link

Malawi2Last September, the world lost a selfless humanitarian, humble servant and courageous leader. Paul Cripps, Extreme Response Canada co-founder with his wife, Linda, had dedicated his life to helping others. While his passing has left a hole in Extreme Response International, his legacy is alive.

Paul’s passion for helping people who live in dire need brought him to Africa, Asia and the Americas. He was tireless in not only visiting the poor in settlements, barrios and squatter Paul & Lindacommunities around the world, but also in sharing their needs with anyone who would listen. He was a frequent speaker throughout Canada and the U.S., encouraging people to get involved in helping to change the lives of the poor.

Paul and Linda led or participated in volunteer teams in Ecuador, the Philippines, South Africa, Brazil and other developing countries. Their compassion has been contagious. Countless people continue to become short-term volunteers and serve others as a result of their example.

IMG_1308Perhaps one of Paul’s strongest qualities was displaying courage while fighting cancer, a reoccurring enemy that finally ended his life on earth. Even while battling cancer for many years, Paul remained focused on meeting the needs of people living in extreme poverty and helping our partners who serve them.

Today, Linda is carrying on their shared passion. She serves as president of ER Canada and continues to raise funds, support partners and assist those who seek to go to foreign countries to serve. Linda shared these thoughts after viewing the award ceremony via Skype:

IMG_1226“After watching the award ceremony, I wiped a tear away and thanked God for a great group of men who wanted to honor Paul’s memory,” she said. “Courage is a wonderful word; it’s both adjective and verb. It can describe a characteristic of a person, but shows the action in someone’s life.

“The courage Paul demonstrated in the last 16 years of his life, especially the last four or five years, exemplifies his true dedication. He was willing to give his life for his passion of helping to change the lives of others through ER and all our partners.

“Many of our partners can echo with me the times Paul would be walking beside in their world them with yet another personal medical issue that needed attention while away from the comforts of his doctor.  He left his fate in the hands of his Heavenly Father.

Because of his humbleness, Paul would say, ‘oh friends, this award is not necessary’. But as his wife, I truly thank each of you for this lasting memorial, a tribute that his brothers in arms will share and a legacy that can be remembered every year going forward. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Rich Brown receives Paul Cripps Courage Award
Rich Brown receives the first-ever Paul Cripps Courage Award

Rich Brown Receives First Paul Cripps Courage Award

Extreme Response sought to recognize Paul in a way that would pay tribute to his strong faith, generosity and leadership. Paul was a cornerstone of ER’s Leadership Community, having coached and encouraged developing leaders worldwide.

Russ Cline, ER Chief Development Officer who heads up our Leadership Community, was inspired to create the Paul Cripps Courage Award.

The very first Paul Cripps Courage Award was presented at the 2016 Leader Mundial Summit to Rich Brown, founder and president of Inca Link. In presenting the award, Russ highlighted Rich’s huge vision, fearlessness and willingness to help at-risk youth throughout from locations in Ecuador and Peru.

Rich is married to Lisa and has four children, Olivia, 22,  Michaela, 20, Josiah, 18, and Alexa, 15. His vision is to help 300 million at-risk youth in Latin America through leadership training, networking and compassion programming. His strategies include using short-term volunteer teams, interns and donated resources to engage youth throughout the Latin world.

URGENT, DIRE HELP NEEDED IN ECUADOR!

Note: Please click here for our latest updates.

Extreme Response exists to help people living in extreme, sometimes LIFE-THREATENING situations.

Today we are shouting the “LIFE-THREATENING” portion of our mission statement because people in Ecuador are DYING and we are compelled to help. We are asking for your immediate, generous support in order to respond.
 
13015340_1006193326123681_6346500706461780100_nLast night our relief team reported conditions in coastal Ecuador are far worse that we had hoped. Earthquake victims are so desperate for food and water that robbery and chaos are ruling the moment. CNN reports today that 570 have died, 7,015 are injured and 155 are missing. These numbers will rise.
 
Our team is safe, but out of supplies. Today they will use the last $1,000 of their funds to purchase food and water and deliver them to our partner in Pacoche, which will serve as our distribution hub.
 
ER staff and friends load a truck with supplies for the relief trip to the coast.
ER staff and friends load a truck with supplies for the relief trip to the coast.

We have a plan

In response to our relief team’s first-hand report and their pleas to do more, we are preparing a second relief team RIGHT NOW. They are purchasing $4,000 of food, water, medical supplies and blankets. Our plan is to take these supplies to our partner Casa de Dios in Pacoche, which has a secure building. The supplies will be stored there and distributed to people who are in dire straights.
We are using the last of our cash on hand in Quito to purchase these supplies. We are asking for your urgent support to help us raise at least $10,000 to allow us to fund these relief teams and future relief work that will take place in the days and months ahead.
 
How to help
To give in the US, click here. In Canada, click here. Designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.
 
For our friends living in Quito, you are welcome to bring non-perishable food, bottled water and medical supplies to ER or to Pan de Vida, an ER partner that also is preparing to deliver supplies.
 
Thank you for caring for these people. With your support, we can bring survival and hope to those in desperate need!
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(Below are prior reports)

ER sent a team Wednesday morning to the coast, where CNN is reporting that more than 500 people have died. Our team has supplies and is planning to assess the areas impacted by the earthquake for opportunities where ER and our partners can help. We are looking for areas that require longer term assistance so.

'Note: A new 6.1 quake hit early Wednesday morning off the coast of Ecuador. Click here for breaking details: http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/20/americas/ecuador-earthquake/index.html ER sent a team Wednesday morning to the coast, where CNN is reporting that more than 500 people have died. Our team has supplies and is planning to assess the areas impacted by the earthquake for opportunities where ER and our partners can help. We are looking for areas that require longer term assistance so we can help in the months ahead. We are seeking donations to help the people who have been greatly impacted. To give, go to http://www.extremeresponse.org/take-action/make-a-donation/us-donations. Canadian donors should visit: http://www.extremeresponse.org/about-us/about-er-canada/canadian-donation. Please designate your gift "Ecuador Earthquake Relief". Follow our team's progress at http://blog.extremeresponse.org/'

ER Team Heads to Coast to Help Earthquake Victims
An ER team from our Quito office has gathered supplies and is heading to the coast to help early Wednesday morning. More 440 people have died and 4,000+ have been injured according to CNN. Some are saying this is Ecuador’s worst disaster in 60 years. Please keep our team in your thoughts! To give, visit http://www.extremeresponse.org/donate-now.

  • ER Team Preps Supplies for Coastal Towns Hit By Earthquake
  • ER Team Preps Supplies for Coastal Towns Hit By Earthquake
Gabriela Luna's photo.
Gabriela Luna's photo.
Gabriela Luna's photo.
Gabriela Luna's photo.
Gabriela Luna's photo.
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Photo: Agency France Presse

ER partner Casa de Dios is located in Pachoche, which is within the quake zone. Our contacts Fabian and Graciela are safe, but they are surrounded towns that have crumbled buildings, broken roads, landslides and more.

Extreme Response intends to help Casa de Dios help its neighbors. As we receive details, we are asking for donations to help provide immediate assistance (food, water, shelter) for those facing imminent danger. This will be followed by longer-term help.

BBrRSDF
Photo: Agency France Presse

ER partner Casa de Dios is located in Pachoche, which is within the quake zone. Our contacts Fabian and Graciela are safe, but they are surrounded towns that have crumbled buildings, broken roads, landslides and more.

If you would like to donate to this disaster response,  visit http://www.extremeresponse.org/donate-now. Please designate your gift “Ecuador Earthquake Relief”.

BBrS0rp
Photo: Agency France Presse

7 Reasons to Join an Extreme Response Christmas Team

12234921_10153120210676035_6262814906506857555_n
ER’s Lindsey FIsher dances joyfully during an ER Christmas party in South Africa

IMG_0261By Tim Fausch, ER Communications

So you’ve survived winter and are looking for something exciting to do this year. You’ve thought about planning a vacation, but the idea of another beach trip leaves you empty. Fortunately for you, we’ve got the perfect solution: Join an Extreme Response Christmas team and help change lives!

The Quito Christmas teams impacted more than 4,400 people last year!
Last year’s Quito Christmas team impacted 4,350 people!

Join an ER Christmas team? Why would you want to do that?

We’re glad you asked. Here are seven reasons why you would be crazy not to join a team.

1.  Why settle for celebrating Christmas once when you can celebrate it seven-plus times? ER Christmas teams go where few others go in order to connect with people living in extreme conditions. Our Christmas teams typically host at least one party each day for a week, with each party taking place in a unique setting.

2.  You dislike “touristy” trips. We feel your pain. Nothing screams “snoozer” like a visit to some man-made theme park or shopping district. As part of an ER Christmas team, you’ll meet real people living on the edge of society and you’ll play a central role in providing them with hope!

_MG_0317
Dawn Carnill reconnects with a family attending the Quito Dump Christmas Celebration.

3.  Your passport needs a stamp from Ecuador, the Philippines or South Africa.  How can you say you’ve seen the world without visiting one or all of these incredible countries?

4.  You want more friends. Christmas teams are a great way to meet people who share your passions. You’ll enjoy meeting people from different places and learning about their lives.

5.  You still have a couple megabytes of space left on your digital camera.  Get ready, because you’ll meet some of the cutest kids on the planet. You’ll be physically unable to resist snapping pics of them _MG_0309having the time of their life. For most kids, it will be their only chance to celebrate Christmas.

6. Your heart needs warming. Exhausting jobs, household chores and busy schedules can suck the life out of us. It’s easy to misplace our compassion. We’ll help you find it! Every day will be filled with opportunities to help “the least of these”.

7.  You’ve always wanted to join “an assembly line of love”. Our teams IMG_0267participate in something we like to call “organized chaos”. This is when we gather as a team to assemble gift bags for the children. It’s actually a bit of slap-happy fun and a great way to bond with your team.

But seriously…

So we’ve shared some fun and funky reasons to join a Christmas team, but the real reason is that you’ll be investing into the lives of people who are often forgotten by society…families who live in squatter communities, people who glean their living picking through the trash for recyclables, children who are sick, abandoned or orphaned, and the 12279062_10153032967721920_7145267726201177551_nvictims of human trafficking. These are the people we reach and we’d love to have you join us.

If you’ve never been on an ER Christmas team, perhaps this is the year. We’re celebrating 20 years of Christmas parties, starting with the very first one (see a video of that party) in the Quito Dump in 1997. In the years since, we’ve become more organized and efficient as  you can see in these more recent video. But one thing hasn’t changed. We continue to share the story – and joy – of Christmas to those who eagerly want to receive it.

ER-logo-20th-Anniversary-Full-Color-Portrait (1)This year we have three Christmas Teams planned in late November and early December: Quito, EcuadorManila, the Philippines and Cape Town, South Africa. You can learn more about our Christmas teams by visiting our Christmas Celebrations page.

If you are unable to join a team in person, we would still highly value your participation as a volunteer or donor.  For general information, email Christmas@extremeresponse.org.

 

 

Gracious, Glamorous Golden Grads

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Anne and Johshua Benavidez flank graduate Emelita Sumaya.

By Anne Benavidez, Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program Director

IMG_3568Like caterpillars emerging as beautiful butterflies from their cocoons, eight members of the Golden Hands Livelihood Education Program celebrated being the program’s very first graduates. Each of the women wore dresses they made themselves and enjoyed a time of recognition, glamour and thankfulness.

The graduation ceremony was a very big deal. You see, all of these women came from humble backgrounds. Most live in squatter communities and struggle with extreme poverty, substandard living IMG_3630conditions and a lack of opportunity.

Two years ago, none of them would have envisioned themselves being celebrated. They had little hope that their lives would improve. But today, in a fancy ceremony that involved flowers, photos and the presentation of new sewing machines as graduation gifts, the women were honored for their achievements.

So what caused the transformation to take place?

The short answer is that people cared. Extreme Response Asia staff members saw the needs and became determined to find a way to encourage, inspire and equip these women to strive for better lives. We saw the potential in the women, even though many of the women could not yet see it in themselves.

IMG_3648Our desire to help the women led to the formation of the Golden Hands Sewing group, which evolved into the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program a year later. We had to change the name because the program was accomplishing far more than teaching sewing skills.

For one, the women were discovering self-respect and confidence. For another, they were growing trusted new relationships. They also were learning life skills, business skills and spiritual depth. They were becoming well-rounded people, filled with hope and grace.

IMG_3650So that’s why celebrating the graduation of eight women from the Golden Hands program was so big. It was so much more than certificates and gifts. We affirmed them in a very powerful way.

To get to this point, the women had to commit to attend weekly classes for eight months and finish all their assignments. They had to learn cutting, pattern making, basic sewing, crocheting and some knitting. Eight of 10 enrollees made it all the way through the program.

IMG_3645As a special incentive, ER provided a sewing machine and starter kit for all eight graduates. Going forward, the women will receive continuous training and coaching. Most of them are planning to start businesses, including six who want to pool their capital, work as a team and share profits.

During the last year, the women have built a lot of self-confidence, created a community among themselves and become closer than ever. They acquired skills that they say will not be taken away from them, that they will bring with them wherever they go. Even if they are forced to leave the places where they now live, they will bring skills that will provide livelihood wherever they relocate. They now have a weapon to fight poverty.

IMG_3590Anne Benavidez is the director of the Golden Hands Livelihood Educational Program located in Makati City near Manila. Click here and here to learn more about the Golden Hands program.

Spiderman Rescues ER Team House Facade

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IMG_1171If you’ve stayed at the Extreme Response Team House or visited our offices, you know the building is a huge blessing to the work we do throughout Ecuador and the Americas. The four-story building includes ER’s Quito staff offices and can house a few dozen volunteers (the exact number depends on how many bunk beds we fill) who come to Quito on short-term teams.

Scaffolding reached four-stories high.
Scaffolding reached four-stories high.

Doing a patch job and repainting seemed like an acceptable short-term solution. But was there a better, longer-term solution?

Enter ER’s Pete “Spiderman” Emery who accepted the challenge of finding a more permanent solution. The result was to install decorative stone with a top edge to keep the moisture from penetrating the area.

With help from Xavier Hildago and other ER staff, they erected four stories of scaffolding, scraped and cleaned the top portion of the building’s face, carefully installed the stone, and then sealed everything and painted the trim to match.

For those of you engaged in our work in Ecuador, thank you for IMG_1169your support! Resources like buildings, vehicles and office equipment are extremely valuable in achieving our mission of helping people who live in desperate, sometimes life-threatening conditions. These tools allow volunteers to participate, strategy to be developed and supplies to be transported. We couldn’t do it without you.

To learn more about our work in Quito, click here. To learn about joining a short-term team in Ecuador or the Americas, click here. To learn about our partners in the Americas, click here.