On the ground in Esmeraldas, Hogar de Esperanza helps those affected by recent floods

Jun 17, 2023 | 1 comment

By Garry Vatcher

To me, Esmeraldas is one of the most fascinating parts of Ecuador. Its natural beauty, pristine beaches and amazing people makes it special. Last year, I spent several weeks exploring this part of Ecuador. What disappointed me was the extreme poverty and lack of services. With almost 70% of the population living in poverty and 40% in extreme poverty, it is no wonder that the recent flooding had a major impact on those living there.

With more than 21,300 people left homeless and 5,479 homes seriously affected after the June 4 floods, a terrible economic situation has been made even worse. How do you deal with a tragedy so huge and so far away? From our experience in Alausi, we learned that the most effective way of using resources is to collaborate with other partners involved.

Foundation Hogar de Esperanza has a team on the ground assessing the situation and giving us daily updates. We have decided that the most effective use of funds is to provide prepared meals to those who have lost their homes. Our team cooks and distributes meals every day to those working to make their homes habitable again. Many are without running water or cooking facilities, so this is the most practical. Some are not yet ready for supplies as many of the houses are still full of mud.

We also learned from our Alausi experience that many times, donations do not make it to its destination and even less reach those affected. Given the insecurity in the area, sending things would be an extremely high-risk activity. Our approach has always been to make sure that your donations reach its intended target, and we are very effective in doing that. Should we decide to send items, we will personally accompany the items to their final destination.

Our team encountered 12-year-old Samantha. Her shirt says “As pretty as always”, and we agree. A pile of molding clothes is behind her and remnants of her neighbor’s houses lay strewn around her house. The flood struck with such force that even appliances were taken away and a neighbor’s fridge lies on the ground. She was rescued from the flood waters that engulfed her house. She had less than ten minutes to save herself and did not have time to take anything.

She was able to salvage some of her clothes from the pile and hang them to dry. She has no way to wash them. All her shoes are gone, and she walks through the mud in her bare feet. She sits on the steps grateful that she is alive and that her house still stands. Does she deserve to eat?

Samantha’s neighbor, Jessica, was not so lucky. She stands where the house she shared with her mother and grandmother once stood. They lost everything. Jessica is just 19 years old and is seven months pregnant. The government assistance has not yet reached their neighborhood. She was feeling so sad as she worries about her unborn child. Our team was able to provide them with food and get her vitamins. Where will her next meal come from? Will you provide it?

Next week, we plan to send our patient coordinator to the area. I will go once we assess the risks. There has been outbreaks of mosquito born and other illness in the area, so we need to be mindful of the personal risks involved with sending individuals who have no immunity to these illnesses.

How can you help?

Financial contributions are the most effective. For every $100 we receive, we can provide 60 meals. It will also allow us to purchase medicines and other items needed on a case-by-case basis. You can make a donation here: https://foundationhogardeesperanza-bloom.kindful.com/?campaign=1260476 Other donation options can be found here: https://hogaresperanza.org/en/donations/

Not all can make a financial contribution but would like to help. If you have items, you no longer need, no matter what they are, we can use them. We will sort through the donations received and determine what is suitable to send, when possible, and what would be better suited to sell in our Thrift Shop to turn into cash to support those in need. You can contact us at info@hogaresperanza.org to arrange a pickup of items.

Natural disasters are unavoidable. They affect those living in poverty the most as they are forced to live in areas that have less infrastructure and support to mitigate disasters. We are grateful to the expat community that allows us to partner with various Ecuadorian agencies to support the most vulnerable among us. Thank you on behalf of Samantha, Jessica and the thousands of others we will support and assist with your help.

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