Two weeks ago, MEDLIFE doctors, nurses and clinic leaders made the 3 hour journey from the city of Esmeraldas to the small, isolated community of Canalon in the province of Muisne, Ecuador. The clinic staff had to take two buses over rocky, undefined roads and pile into a small boat to reach the community that is all but cut off from Ecuador’s main cities. The journey was made to set up one of the most ambitious mobile clinics we have established so far. Over 170 people from five different communities made the journey to Canalon on 29th June to seek medical attention from the clinic. As always, MEDLIFE staff were offering medical treatment and advice to attendees of the clinic. However, in addition they were also offering support and help for those community members who had been affected by the recent earthquake that shook this, and many other areas of Ecuador, in April of this year.
Following the catastrophe on April 16, MEDLIFE in Ecuador has been working tirelessly with affected communities to bring medical attention and development to areas that need it most. The earthquake, which struck Ecuador’s provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabi with a 7.8 magnitude, caused around 661 deaths and resulted in over 7000 injuries. Furthermore, there was severe impact on infrastructure with more than 2000 buildings damaged and over 24,000 people left homeless.
Jama, a community of about 20,000 in the coastal region of Ecuador, was hit especially hard by the earthquake and MEDLIFE has been working closely with the people of this district to provide the help needed to rebuild the worst affected areas. Since the earthquake struck, MEDLIFE’s Earthquake Relief Fund has been going towards rebuilding and fixing many of the buildings that were destroyed in this area. The fund, which totalled $18,962, is being used in conjunction with money from the provincial government of Tena to construct houses and bathrooms for the individuals and families who suffered most from this natural disaster.
In working with the government, MEDLIFE is able to create a more sustainable development and reconstruction project for this community. Since April, MEDLIFE have succeeded in working with the government to complete two bathroom projects in this area and another eight are planned to be completed over the next few months. In addition to the infrastructural improvement projects being run by MEDLIFE, the Canalon clinic was established to make sure even those most isolated from the rest of the country were able to receive medical attention if they needed it. Three months on and the work MEDLIFE and other NGOs have been putting in, along with the government, is beginning to bring normality back to the affected provinces.
However, though under control, the assistance needed as a result of this earthquake is still far from being over. Just a few days ago, on July 10, two more earthquakes were recorded in the Esmeraldas province. These recent tremors reached magnitudes of 5.9 and 6.4 respectively on the Richter scale and are thought to have been aftershocks of the April disaster. The recent earthquakes have caused further damage to infrastructure in affected areas that, though not as severe as in April, still needs attention. Martha Chicaiza, director of MED Programs in Ecuador told us that this would be more repair and maintenance work than reconstruction. Martha described how “the first earthquake entirely destroyed buildings, this time however it will be more fixing the roof of a school or rebuilding the wall of a house than having to create entire new buildings”.
MEDLIFE hopes to be able to continue to work with the government on these projects to create sustainable development in the communities and continue to run more clinics like Canalon where possible. Being able to support the affected communities to the best of our ability will make a difference in how much these people suffer from this disaster. As the projects continue, we will keep our website updated with information about the communities and the progress of the projects.