Category Archives: Building Homes

Team Omaha: Building Homes, Changing The Lives Of Dump Families

2016 Robles Guachi

 By John Toney, Team Omaha

Arriving late in Quito, Ecuador on July the 19, 2016, a team from Omaha, NE of 23 people arose early the next morning to join the ER team, Ricardo Vaca Maila and Luis Anibal Maila Vaca. Our purpose was to contruct a new house for Pedro and Martha Robles Guachi, and their three children, Mario, Estefanía and Stalin.

It was a great experience to undertake this project that had been planned for nearly a year for the family that had never owned their own home. We could see and sense their excitement knowing that in just a few days they would have a new place to live.

The work of constructing external and internal walls, tiling and setting the windows and door began in earnest. Great progress was made the first couple of days with the family working right alongside the team. To complete the project, an additional 500 concrete blocks were off-loaded by the family and team members.

Team Omaha 2016Seeing that the house was well ahead of schedule it was decided to begin building an addition for Pedro and Martha’s daughter, son-in-law and baby girl. This required an additional 1,000 concrete blocks. While the addition was not completed by the time our team departed, the family, working with Ricardo and Luis, were able to finish it one week later.

House and Addition

Then came move-in day. The family was sent away while everything was readied for the homecoming celebration. Furniture purchased for the project was put in place, beds were made, curtains were hung and the kitchen stocked with food and water. Clothing for each family member also was placed in the chest-of-drawers in each room.

Team OmahaEven though the family worked alongside the team in construction, they were completely surprised to see all the other things that were in their new house. For a family with so little who work in the Zambiza dump to eke out a meager living, their new home was like a gift from heaven. Their gratitude, expressed in spoken word, many tears of joy and praise could not be contained. The lives of the Robles Guachi family have been forever changed, as well as many others who witnessed the building project.

For Team Omaha, it was also a life-changing event as we were able to tangibly give to a family something so basic as a place to live and to call their own. We, too, shed many tears of joy as we celebrated with them.

DSC05026For some of the team members, it was the first experience in building a house and providing for people in desperate need, while for other ‘veterans’ it was a labor of love that began some nine years ago when Team Omaha built its first house.

For everyone it was richly fulfilling to work until we ached and then to see this wonderful family’s gratitude and joy of for their new home. Team Omaha is forever grateful for the opportunity to be associated with Extreme Response and Paul and Susan Fernane serving needy families in Quito, Ecuador.

Extreme Response has built 14 homes (view video here) for families in the Quito Dump Community. Interested in sending a volunteer team to build, repair, instruct, provide healthcare, sports camps, etc.? Click here to learn more.

Xulon Project Responds To Extreme Needs in Nepal

Xulon ProjectXulon Project 2015-16 Partner UpdatePokhara, Nepal – Xulon Project equips individuals and groups to show love to their community and see lives transformed with purpose and hope for the future. This includes hosting youth camps and providing relief for earthquake victims.

Impact Snapshot: “After the 2015 earthquake, we were able to mobilize volunteers and help people in practical ways. This has helped us learn to work on a bigger scale with a larger network of people to address people’s needs.” – Paulas Panday

2015 Highlights

  • Served 85 children through after-school programs and weekly kids clubs.
  • Provided 355 solar-powered lamps for families who lost homes in the earthquake.
  • Provided emergency shelter and materials for 195 families.
  • Provided school backpacks and supplies for 354 children in 6 villages.
  • Provided jackets, shawls, hats and blankets for 1,668 people in five villages.

IMG_12322016 Top Goal

Xulon Project hosted a Leader Mundial leadership training program for young leaders who want to impact their generation with hope and healing.

Changed Life Story

Last year in August we held a staff meeting in our office to determine what else we should do in the winter for those who were impacted by the earthquake. Because we had met and served hundreds of families through Hope Camp, we wanted to prepare people for the harsh winter approaching them.

women receives blankets for her familySo we contacted the local coordinator who is our volunteer leader to organize relief work in the village. We collected data and raised funds by October. And by November, we were in village with two truckloads of items to give to villagers who had lost their homes in high mountain area.

When the mainstream media reported that the high hill and mountain people in Nepal were in desperate conditions, we had already given winterization materials (shawls, jackets, hats, blankets, etc.) to 381 families in five villages.

We were so pleased to help these villages. Xulon Project was able to bring life and hope to these communities.

Learn more: www.cyfm-nepal.org.

Caravans Distribute Supplies to Quake Victims

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AGUS6922(Monday Sept. 12, 2016 Update)

Caravans Help Ecuador Earthquake Victims
ER partner Pan de Vida is still helping the victims of the April earthquakes by sending supply caravans to coastal Ecuador.

Thousands of people who lost their homes, and sometimes their livelihoods, received nearly $7k in food kits, diapers and other supplies last month. Thank you Pan de Vida for encouraging these families in the midst of their struggles!

Scroll below to read more Earthquake Relief stories.

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20160720_081625(Wednesday Aug. 17, 2016 Update) Although the April 2016 quake devastated Ecuador’s coast four months ago, the impact remains present. The mother of ER partner Casa de Dios Gracelia Buenventa lost her home. New building codes require core samples, engineering studies and design plans to be approved.

They have completed the testing and studies and now the site is being prepared to rebuild.  Scroll below to read more about ER’s Ecuador Earthquake Relief work and this specific project (Project #1).

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(Tuesday August 9, 2016 Update)

Earthquake relief bags with Pan de VidaYesterday, ER staff helped stuff hundreds of relief bags with long-time partner Pan de Vida. Even though the quake hit in April, many families in the impacted coastal area continue to live in tents or substandard housing and are struggling to regain normalcy.

The bags contain diapers, wipes, oatmeal, baby food, hygiene items, sugar, corn, beans and rice. The bags will be transported to the coast and distributed to struggling families. In the face of extreme circumstances, we are grateful to be able to share food, supplies, hope and encouragement to these families.

DSC_0329Thank you Pan de Vida for organizing this effort and thank you Extreme Response donors for your generous support.

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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Twice-Destroyed Shrimp Farm Home Looking Good!

(Thursday Aug. 5, 2016 Update) We continue to rejoice in the rebuilding of Pastor Fabian’s parent’s home (Earthquake Relief Project #2) which was destroyed twice during the April Ecuador earthquake and aftershocks. Today, the home has received more finish work. Thank you to all who have contributed to ER’s Ecuador Earthquake Relief Fund. Scroll below to see the home in its previous conditions.

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(Tuesday July 19, 2016 Update)

Imagine having your home destroyed by a massive earthquake, surviving, living in a tent for weeks and finally rebuilding…only to have your home destroyed AGAIN by a huge aftershock! The parents of ER partner Fabian Buenaventura (Casa de Dios) have endured this journey in the coastal area of Pedernales, Ecuador.

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The family home was leveled for a second time in early June.

Unfortunately, the same aftershock that knocked down their first rebuild also destroyed the home of their builder, who was then unable to help them rebuild again.  So the family has endured tent living for months. Finally, three months after the first 8.6-magnitude quake hit in April, the family home is nearing completion.

13124869_10209938380841172_3917687609148134070_nThey are very grateful for the support that ER supporters and staff have provided and plan to move into the new house soon. This would not be possible without the help of ER donors. They also shared their appreciation for the physical and emotional support of the ER staff.

Thank you for helping ER pour into this family!

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IMAG1697Prep Work Underway To Rebuild Faith and Hope School

(Tuesday July 6, 2016 Update)

ER’s Pete Emery shared this from a trip he made to last week to the Ecuador coast:

Mariana has cared for at-risk kids in Perdenales since 1976
Mariana has cared for at-risk kids in Perdenales since 1976

“Last week we visited with Mariana López, who founded Fundacion Alfalite in 1976. They run the Faith and Hope after-school program, which operated out of the school building that has now been torn down.

“Core samples have been drilled and an engineer commissioned to do structural drawings in order to get approvals to rebuild. Unfortunately, we learned that the foundation is unsuitable for rebuilding.

“We are pursuing an option to straddle the foundation around it’s perimeter, which would save thousands of dollars in removal costs. We are checking on setback requirements to see if this will work.”

IMAG1692If the core samples come back solid and the engineer is able to produce the drawings, Fundacion Alfalite could request building permits later this month and start the rebuilding process shortly thereafter.

Thank you to all of you who have supported our Earthquake relief efforts since the 7.8-magnitude quake struck on April 16, killing more than 550 and leaving thousands homeless. Scroll below to see more of our previous updates.

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Perdenales

(Wednesday June 29, 2016 Update)

Quake Leaves Behind Daily Struggles in Coastal Ecuador

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

The 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 Pedernales, 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 Pedernales 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 Pedernales 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 Pedernales 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 Perdernales 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 Pedernales 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 Pedernales, 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. Pedernales 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 Pedernales, 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 Pedernales 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.

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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.

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

 

Hope Breeds Hope…

NAPACOR VillageA Personal Note From Jerry Carnill, ER President & CEO

Dear Friends,

Have you ever been in a situation that appeared hopeless?

At ER, we intentionally interject ourselves into the lives of people who believe there is no hope for their future. For years, we have been privileged to bring help for today and hope for a better future to kids, moms and dads who couldn’t see any way out of their situations.

IMG_3301When we first stepped into the Quito Dump 18 years ago, we encountered hundreds of people living in the trash. Most were working very hard to provide for their families. But they longed for their children to have a better future.

For many of these parents, this dream has come true. The younger children who have attended our preschool are well prepared for primary school.

Hope breeds hope.

Michelle-1The older children who attend our after-school tutoring program are on their way to finishing high school. Moms are now attending a club designed to help them grow personally and as a parent.

Fathers are stepping up to care for their families with the encouragement of the ER staff. Parents have taken advantage of the opportunities provided by ER and their kids are thriving.

Hope breed hope.

IMG_20150729_134613534This new hope has helped 13 families scrimp and save enough money to buy small plots of land. Then, together with ER volunteers and staff, they built block homes with cement floors and roofs that don’t leak.

The world is full of hurting people who have no hope for their future. We have expanded our impact by placing staff members and outreach programs in Asia and Africa to allow us to bring them the same hope that Ecuadorians now enjoy.

Carnills with Masi kidsMany of you receiving this letter have volunteered with us. You may know Dawn and me or other ER staff members. You may even know some of the children we are reaching.

I’m writing to ask for your help. Many kids in our programs are more highly educated than their parents, but are stuck in poverty.

Imagine a child from the Dump community as an expert welder, working in an office or graduating from college. This is not hopeless fantasy. It is an attainable dream! It’s attainable because, with your help, ER can introduce these kids to opportunities that will fuel their hope and open the world to them.

Hope breeds hope.

8591d4e7-e7b5-4ac5-b029-b802c884b3bbWe need you to help the ER kids around the world break out of their extreme poverty. Would you please consider giving a financial gift before the end of this year as part of our matching funds campaign?

You will be helping us begin 2016 knowing we can bring hope for a better future to the dump families in Quito, the boys in our Children’s Home in Manila the kids in our after-school program in Cape Town, and ER partners working in 10 countries.

Together, we can bring life changing hope!

Jason-6P.S. Please click here to support our year-end matching fund drive.  All gifts received by Dec. 30, 2015,  are being matched dollar-for-dollar up to $145,000 by generous donors* A gift of any size will help! Watch this short video to learn more.

*Please note: Designated donations are applied toward those designated needs. Matching funds are applied to ER’s general fund in order to help meet needs around the world.


Jerry Carnill, Extreme Response

Jerry Carnill is President and CEO of Extreme Response International. He co-founded Extreme Response in 1997 following a visit to the Zambiza Dump in Quito, Ecuador. Today, ER operates humanitarian outreach programs in Quito, Manila and Cape Town, as well as formal relationships with 30 humanitarian partners serving the poor in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Contact Jerry at jcarnill@extremeresponse.org.

Dump Family: From Green Home to Dream Home

P1030222Every day, Miguel and Jane, their daughter Patricia, their sons Luis, Edison, Miguel and Jefferson, plus two more extend family members, squeezed into their tiny home that featured green paneling near the entrance. Built with scavenged boards, the dilapidated house was all they had.

IMG_20150327_120141700_HDR (1)In some countries, the little structure would have been condemned and the family would be out on the street – homeless. But for these nine family members, the home meant survival. They were living like canned sardines, but at least they had a home. Unfortunately, what the home couldn’t provide was hope for the future. They were stuck in a perpetual cycle of poverty.

IMG_3302You see the Guachi family are “miners”, a term used to describe people who scratch out a living by wading into mounds of steaming garbage at the Zambiza Dump to remove recyclables like metal, glass, cardboard and plastics. The work is dirty and dangerous. It pays pennies per pound of recyclables – barely enough for the family to eat.

The outlook for the Guachi family was grim. But they had one chance to change everything. They knew ER volunteers had built homes for 12 other dump families. They asked to be considered for the program. After years of hoping, praying and waiting, they received the news that would change their lives. They would receive the next house, to be built in July 2015.

As part of the program, the Guachi family would work alongside Extreme Response volunteers and contribute their sweat equity. By helping build the home, the family’s confidence and sense of personal investment would grow.

Team Omaha Comes To Serve

IMG_9767_zpsj5xiyvueBuilding homes for dump families would not be possible without ER volunteers and donors. They come from around the world for a week or two to help people they have never met. We call these volunteers Extreme Teams.

One Extreme Team in particular has been a huge blessing to the dump families. “Team Omaha” is compromised of volunteers from multiple churches in Omaha. The team steadfastly journeys to Quito year after year to change the lives of people living in desperate conditions. In addition to constructing homes, the team provides appliances, furniture, bedding and more.

IMG_20150729_134613534The Guachi family home project began by tearing down the little green house. The family had to sleep in an old tent and makeshift hut during the new home construction. Seeing their home destroyed must have been both exciting and scary.

Not including the preliminary prep (foundation, utilities), the home was built in about one week. The 22 members of Team Omaha worked alongside family members, building both a home and relationships.

As far as construction projects go, this project was ER’s largest build yet. The home has five bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen. With the inclusion of other family members, 13 people moved into the house.  (Plus, an uncle and brother also live in huts next to the house.)

Move-In Day: The Guachi Family is Overwhelmed

On the final day of the project, the family left so the team could finish and set up the house.

IMG_20150729_153615994_HDR“I am sure their minds were full of wonder and joy,” said Paul Fernane, Americas Teams Coordinator. “The move-in day was crazy, busy and full of emotion. The team dashed around painting, finishing the electrical and plumbing, hanging curtains, making the beds, adding sheets, pillow and comforters, filling dressers with clothes and hanging special items on the walls.”

IMG_20150729_153556586-1The team team carried the furnishings along a slippery narrow dirt path to the home. The bathroom was outfitted with towels, a medicine cabinet and a shower curtain. The kitchen received a stove, dishes, pots and pans, a blender and other kitchen utilities. The refrigerator and kitchen cabinets were filled with food. A bowl of fruit was placed on the dining room table as the centerpiece. Living room furniture was put in place.

IMG_20150729_153513324_HDRFernane shared the family’s introduction to their new home: “When they toured the home, their smiles were precious, especially the kids, as they opened the doors and saw the furnishings, clothing and food. They expressed extreme joy and gratitude. It was an awesome time of thanksgiving by both the family and the team. Tears and words of thanks went on for some time, before ER’s Zambiza Program Coordinator, Jose Jimenez, and everyone dedicated the home.”

The family inside their new home.
The family inside their new home.

For the Guachi family, life will never be the same. Hopelessness has been tossed to the curb. Now they have a safe, secure and spacious home, plus hope for the future.

Team Omaha wasn’t done with its service to at-risk families. The hearty volunteers also reached out to the women, children and men at the Zabmbiza Dump, Quito Family Resource Center and ER partner Dunamis.

ER has worked with dump families since 1997. We’ve met hundreds of people desperate to exit poverty. Most won’t make it because the crushing cycle of a lack of income, education and opportunity leaves them hopeless.

We know differently. It is possible to change the lives of families like the Guachis, for this generation and the next. Together, we can provide hope for the future.

Want to be a part of an Extreme Team that changes lives? Visit our Teams Page and watch this video showing on how dump families’ futures have been changed through our home building program.

Helping Dump Families Thrive One Home at a Time

During heavy rainstorms, the family's previous home would leak terribly.
During heavy rainstorms, the family’s previous home would leak terribly.

By Tim Fausch, ER Communications Director

“We used to pray to God that he wouldn’t send the rain because we had a dirt floor. Rain was our biggest fear.”

It’s bad enough being dirt poor, but when even the dirt turns against you, you’ve reached the bottom. That was the situation that confronted one family in Quito, Ecuador.

"Miners" sort through the garbage looking for recyclables.
“Miners” sort through the garbage looking for recyclables.

Like nearly 300 other recyclers, German Patricio Fernandez gleans his living by picking through the trash at the Zambiza Transfer Station. The station also is known as the Quito Dump, a reference to its days as a full garbage dump. For 23 years, German has been a “miner”, a person who wades into steaming piles of garbage in search of recyclable plastics, metals, cardboard and glass.

While the Dump is safer today as a transfer station, conditions for recyclers remain unsanitary and dangerous. Even worse, their financial outlook is grim. Recyclers sell the materials for pennies per pound. The long hours required to collect and sort the materials help assure that dump workers will remain in extreme poverty.

Historical conditions compound the recyclers’ plight. Many are second- or third-generation miners with little education. They often inherit their parents’ lack of resources, education and hope.

Recyclers once lived in the Dump in tiny shacks.
Recyclers once lived in the Dump in tiny shacks.

Many of the families live in housing that compares with slums worldwide. Prior to the Dump becoming a Transfer Station, families often lived in makeshift housing in and around the Dump. Their tiny homes were constructed with materials found in the trash – scrap wood, cardboard and plastics. These homes were frequently bulldozed as new portions of the Dump were opened, leaving families homeless.

Praying For No Rain

German and his wife, Eva Morocho, had a particularly acute struggle. They have five daughters, a son and grandson. They used to live in a tiny home made of adobe bricks and cardboard. Rain was cause for concern because their house leaked terribly; a thunderstorm would create panic because their dirt floor would turn to mud.

“Before, our life was very sad because we are a nine-person family and we lived in a very small shack,” Eva said. “We all could not fit together and we had to sleep very close to each other. Everything was in the same room, including the kitchen and bedroom.

IMG_0471“Many times water would enter through the roof and from the walls and touch the earth. As parents, we felt horrible seeing our kids in this situation. We wanted to overcome the situation, but we couldn’t because we had to provide for so many kids and could not afford to build a real home.

“We were living in (adobe and) cardboard, in a space about two by two meters,” she added. “All the kids shared a single bunk. We use to have to put pots and pans to catch the water from dripping on our bed.

“At times my wife and I would see each other and begin to cry and say to each other, when will there be a miracle, so that we can have a house for our kids?” German added.

Extreme Conditions Require an Extreme Response

In 2007, the family’s situation began to change. They were invited to hear Jose Jimenez speak at the Dump. Jose and his wife, Teresa, oversee the Quito Family Resource Center and the Child Development Center at the Dump, operated by a humanitarian organization called Extreme Response International. Jose and Teresa strive to encourage the dump worker families by befriending them, helping them meet extreme needs and encouraging them.

Dump Kids.
Prior to ER providing daycare, workers’ kids played in the Dump.

Extreme Response (ER) has been working in the Dump since 1997. Back then ER was comprised of volunteers who saw hungry and dirty kids and simply wanted to provide some nutrition and programming. Fast forward to today. ER now offers childcare, after-school programs, meals, skills training, and medical and dental assistance to the Dump families.

Jose told German and Eva about a program that allows families to qualify to have a home built for them by Extreme Response volunteers. The program is limited to building one or two homes per year. The families must secure land and participate in the construction.

ER’s Paul Fernane, Short-Term Teams Manager – Americas Region, recalled the family’s situation.

“They were living in a very, very small one-room adobe brick house,” Fernane said. “They had a small outdoor cooking grill and an outhouse for their bathroom.”

German and Eva secured land and were selected for the home construction, which was completed in August 2013.

“The family was very excited and immediately indicated they were going to help any way they could to see their dream come true,” Fernane said. “We loved seeing their faces when they saw the first set of house plans.

“The whole family played a part in the pre-work and during the time the work team was in-country. The parents would work during the day with the team and then work in the Dump at night.

SAM_2797“All the kids pitched in, even little Sammy, who was eight at the time. She always wanted to help mix the mortar and carry the full buckets of mortar to the team members. Even when they looked heavier than her, she climbed up ladders, one rung at a time.

“The family members all poured their hearts into helping, and some of their own resources at times. Their smiles and hard work energized the team every day.”

Volunteers from Nebraska, affectionately called “Team Omaha”, came to Quito to build the home. A foundation provided the funds to build the home, while donors outfitted it with furniture, appliances, bedding and groceries.

“The team loved working with this family and was impacted by their commitment to helping,” Fernane said. “The team members were individually challenged to get out of their comfort zones, even if they had never laid a cinder block before or could not speak the language.

SAM_0378“We had women and men, young and old, who had never done this type of work, but they came together with a common goal of pouring into this family in any way they could. They worked hard every day to help make the family’s dream come true.”

While their modest block home was under construction, ER staff and the team realized the family would benefit greatly from extra space and a separate bathroom. So they modified the plans to include a second story and bathroom. The five girls ended up with their own bunk and bathroom suite.

“Having a house completely changed our lives,” German said. “We used to pray to God that he wouldn’t send the rain because we had a SAM_0394dirt floor. Rain was our biggest fear. Today our kids have their own bed and bathroom. There are no words to explain what we have now.

“Now we don’t live like we lived before. We were suffering. It has been a giant change because we can sleep peacefully. We do not live as we used to in a leaky shack. We are content and we give thanks. We live happy.”

“We are very thankful,” Eva said. “Our home is two stories. The five girls are living upstairs. We have our own bathroom and a kitchen. We only dreamed of this. We thought it would take our entire lives to build a home.”

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“This is our room for my sisters and me,” Leslie (daughter) said. I want to give thanks to all of those who helped us build this house. Here in our room each of us has a bed. We like this room because it is big, we have our own privacy and we can play amongst ourselves or do whatever we wish.”

Fernane said the home-building process has changed the family and the work team.

“The family is coming to ER-led programs,” he said. “You can just see that they have a greater sense of hope and their self-esteem is definitely at a higher level. Their lives are being changed in many ways. We believe they have bigger dreams of what their future might look like.”

“The team was impacted by so much during the construction process, but the day the family moved into their dream home deeply touched the hearts of everyone. There were no dry eyes that day.”

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Paul doesn’t miss opportunities to love on the kids.

Watch ER’s new video on building homes for dump families here.

ER and volunteers will build house number 13 this summer for another deserving family of recyclers from the Quito Dump. In addition to construction teams, we host teams that do medical and dental work, kids programs/crafts/sports, and more.

Read about ER’s plans to help rescue more kids out of poverty here. Learn more about volunteer “Extreme Teams”, internships and career opportunities here.