What I’ve learn about volunteering when disaster strikes, #EcuadorEarthquake

By Jack Hernandez for SocialMediaAge.com / Published on April 19, 2016

This past Saturday, as I was having dinner with family and friends over at my uncles house in Quito, Ecuador, the whole house started shaking. The shaking lasted for 3 minutes. First of all, you don’t really realize you are in the middle of an earthquake till you actually sense the earth moving all around you. We we are able to quickly evacuate the house outside to the garden. It was a frightening thing to do, because the earth kept shaking. Making sure everyone was outside, helping the kids, the elders, and your love ones be safe. Thankfully, the quake didn’t hit hard in Quito and after 3 minutes we didn’t felt anything else, unknowingly to what had actually really happen.

On Sunday, morning when I woke up, turn on the news and start to see the images on TV, the devastating news that the quake epicenter had hit hard in the northern coast of Ecuador, in cities like Manta, Pedernales, Canoa and other small towns where 80% of the buildings collapsed and were destroy by a 7 point earthquake. 

After this, I saw images on tv, people crushed on between the rumbles, no electricity, no access to water, a list of thousands still missing on google people finder, tons of pictures of people not found on facebook, and everywhere you turn, there were devastating news, on social media the videos were devastating to see and hear about. Buildings, bridges, hotels, about 60 something Hotels completely collapsed to the floor. I reflected for a minute. That’s how life can end so fast. One minute you are eating dinner the other you don’t know.

In the mist of all these, I started to see images, pictures, and videos of people coming together and fast. In Quito, I saw the local Mayor organize volunteer groups and people donating everything from food, to medicine, to clothes, to cushions, and beds. I saw how people made a human chain to pass donated items as fast as possible into trucks. I saw dump trunks being filled with donations and quickly sent out to those in need. I started to see the news that many other countries, started to send rescue teams. For once, I never heard Palestine helping, but they decided to send Doctors to Ecuador. Israel also. Wow, two countries coming together to help Ecuador, that has never happened. Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Honduras, El Salvador, Hungary, and The United States, among others quickly have started sending humanitarian aid. Planes and planes have been arriving full with rescue teams, food, medicines, and everything else. Besides the local people and international help, I decided, to get as much food supply I had, and to bring it to the local donation ground. I’ve also helped participate with the local army sorting tons and tons of boxes of food, that people had been donating 24 hours around the clock. We packed tons of food boxes with basic things. At every supermarket I been, I’ve see long and long lines of people buying stuff just to donate it at the front counter. It’s amazing how people can come together and give a helping hand. People have lost everything, but one thing they haven’t lost is hope. I have never experienced people of all ages coming together to lend a helping hand to those who need most. I am sad to experience the situation, but in the other end, happy to see how caring people can really be and how you face the situation can help thousands with a simple gesture of deciding to lend a helping hand.

You can donate to UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org.ec/