Suffering, Ministry Continues in Ecuador After 2016 Earthquake

BAKERSFIELD, CA (May 24, 2017) – NBC station KGET 17 devoted five minutes of its news broadcast Tuesday night to the ongoing suffering of the people in Ecuador a year after a 7.8 deadly earthquake. The station is partnering with Covenant World Relief and the Ecuador Covenant Church (IPEE) to raise funds for ongoing projects. More on that effort can be found here.

KGET reporter Lori Lizarraga was visiting her family in Punta Blanca when the 7.8 earthquake hit on April 16, 2016. For 53 terrifying seconds it collapsed buildings, destroyed roads, and ripped apart water supplies while cutting off access to food and medical care in many parts of the country.

When it was over, 26,000 Ecuadorans were left homeless and 16,000 injured. The government’s official accounting reported nearly 700 deaths, but many say the toll probably was much higher.

Lizarraga stayed another 10 weeks to help with relief work. She helped raise thousands of dollars, led food supply missions throughout the country, and did whatever else was needed of her. “I love the country of Ecuador deeply,” she said.

Much suffering continues despite the immense amount of work that has been done. In the March-April issue of the Companion, Covenant missionary Erik Amundsen wrote,  “Thousands still live in temporary government tent camps and receive help from non-government organizations as well as the government. Others live in makeshift structures under old billboards eating whatever they can find.”

But the tragedy that devastated so many lives has been forgotten by many people outside the country. Now, a year later, Lizarraga wants to raise awareness of the immense needs that remain.

In April, Lizarraga and a team returned to do a special report on recovery efforts. “We interviewed roughly 30 locals affected by the earthquake—those who lost loved ones or their homes, and many who are still living with the destruction,” she said.

As she interviewed people, she kept hearing about the work of the IPEE to provide relief supplies and its ongoing recovery efforts. That work will continue for many long years to come. Covenant World Relief is funding a long-term project in the city of Manta, which had the highest death toll, to be implemented by the church.

“Residents who lost their livelihoods are receiving training and small grants to start small businesses such as restaurants, mini-markets, beauty salons, and a motorcycle parts store,” Amundsen wrote. “Through the creation of businesses, the once-devastated community is rebuilding so that families can sustain themselves and the community can flourish.”

Petter Hermansson, a Swedish missionary working with the IPEE, is quoted in the broadcast.

In addition to the five-minute segment broadcast Tuesday, the station plans to run a 30-minute report “Despues del Terremoto” (After the Earthquake) next month. A Spanish version of the Tuesday night broadcast will be aired next week.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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