IN ONE MINUTE, YOUR WORLD CAN CHANGE; AND IN THAT MOMENT YOU CAN CHANGE THE WORLD
On April 16, 2016 residents in the coastal communities of Ecuador had no warning when “The Big One” violently shook their world for 60 seconds during the 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake – the deadliest to hit the nation since March 1987 – claimed 670 lives, and left almost 30,000 people in shelters or living in make-shift tent cities on the side of the road and in nearby parks.
Three days after the quake, The Waterbearers — an organization that is inspiring women who have access to clean water, to get it to those who don’t – responded to the crisis by implementing an immediate water delivery and volunteer training program, in tandem with the world-class Ecuadorian chocolatier, Pacari.
“Ecuador is my adopted country,” says British-born Waterbearers Co-Founder Jane Brinton. “And, when the Earthquake hit, I recognized the urgency in my own backyard. I had been helping to create The Waterbearers organization for several months and we had 50 water filters already donated on hand. I realized I had an immediate way to help my Ecuadorian neighbors, and to start the circle of giving – to be a Waterbearer, and to reach out to those in need with the tangible and life-giving gift of water.” This effort provided the first clean water filter systems to communities near the epicenter and helped 5,000 people gain access to clean water.
When disasters, such as earthquakes occur, they are followed by what experts call “A 2-week window of empathy,” – a time when people anxious to help, donate to disaster relief agencies around the world. While these outpourings are incredibly important, they are just the beginning. And, for many communities, left in the wake of such disasters, a welcome gesture, but not a sustaining solution.
Tragedies like earthquakes are not single incidents. They trigger an ongoing, myriad of emotional, psychological, and physical reactions that can impact individuals, families and communities for years to come. And, during these times, the needs often grow way beyond what people initially believe will be necessary.
In Ecuador alone, more than 2,173 aftershocks have occurred since the initial quake and the continued seismic activity has caused more damage and injuries, creating additional trauma to the people in the impacted areas.
In an effort to answer those ongoing demands, The Waterbearers have been spearheading efforts to provide continuing aid, and with help from donors and their partner, Waves For Water, almost 3,000 water filters have been couriered to communities within Ecuador – with the capacity of providing clean water to 300,000 people.
And, the work goes on.
The Waterbearers have also provided much needed water filters to indigenous tribes including the Yasuni Kichwa and the Shuar in the Amazon, and to the Cañari in the Andes, returning many times to assess the progress, and to re-train when necessary.
For more information on how to donate or to journey with The Waterbearers on a distribution trip, please contact The Waterbearers at: firstname.lastname@example.org