On the scene in Alausí, Cuenca’s Hogar de Esperanza asks expats to help the landslide victims

Apr 1, 2023 | 8 comments

By Gary Vatcher

During the evening of last Sunday, as the earth started to slide in Alausí, no one expected such a tragedy. With more than 2,000 people affected and 67 still missing, the country has come together to help. People have lost their homes, their livelihood and some have lost their whole families. There are children who are now orphans.

Members of the Foundation Hogar de Esperanza staff meet with relief workers Friday in Alausí.

Foundation Hogar de Esperanza visited the site on Friday to help assess and coordinate the foundation’s response. We met with the government officials in charge of the efforts. What we found was an amazing response by emergency services from all over Ecuador. Food, clothing and other supplies filled a warehouse. We were also very happy to hear that a partner foundation, Diviño Niño from Naranjal was there to assist as well. Their dogs who normally help disabled children, were now helping look for those buried in this tragedy and still missing. On Friday, they helped find seven bodies.

Dogs who normally help disabled children are now searching for those buried in the landslide.

What do you do to help in such a disaster and what is the best approach? The immediate reaction is to start sending things. We all want to help. But often, it creates more headaches and logistical nightmares for those on the ground trying to help those in emergency need. Some of what they receive just cannot be used.

We decided to take a different approach to this emergency. We will assess the situation and work with the local authorities to fill in the gaps. It is something the expat community can excel in and be of tremendous help in these situations. As we talked with the local authorities and promised expat help, they were overwhelmed with gratitude as we can collectively make a huge difference.

They are in the initial stage of this emergency. People are being housed in local centers, they are receiving food and clothing. On Wednesday, we will deliver adult diapers, underwear and socks for children, wipes, bags to pack food, recyclable bags to pack groceries and baby bottles. These are the urgent needs. If you have any of these items you can drop them off at Esperanza Thrift Shop at Juan Montalvo 8-18 and Mariscal Sucre.

A collection center in Alausí receives donations from around Ecuador.

In the coming days, we will be informed of special needs and get a profile of the families affected. We have promised that we will help through the second stage of when people are resettled in new homes and as they try to restart their lives. We will be coordinating with the government officials so there is no overlap in donations and everyone gets exactly what they need. We will update those who donate on the progress of our activities.

Help continues to arrive in Alausí.

The second stage will be just as difficult. After the initial surge of donation drop off, they will still be in need of assistance. There is already a commitment to help them with new fridges and stoves but they will need cooking supplies, utensils, and other furniture. We will remain in constant contact with the government officials to see how we can fill in the gaps and help.

Hogar de Esperanza is working with local officials to deliver supplies to the landslide victims.

Foundation Hogar de Esperanza is a registered charity in Ecuador, the United States and Canada. We are registered in Ecuador as a foundation who can legally respond to emergencies.

To make a donation to support the people of Alausi you can do it at: https://foundationhogardeesperanza-bloom.kindful.com/?campaign=1245027  For other donation options, including tax receipt, you can visit our website at: https://hogaresperanza.org/en/donations/

If you would like to help in other ways, you can reach out to us through our email at: info@hogaresperanza.org

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Gary Vatcher is director of Hogar de Esperanza.

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