Lessons from a natural disaster

By the end of last spring an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 shook the Ecuadorian people in several parts of the country. About 676 people died and 16,600 people were injured. President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency. A few days after the earthquake, the nation faced problems with supplying food and water to those in need, counting the 26 thousand survivors in relocated to shelters. Ecuador was already facing an economic crisis before the earthquake and when it actually happened the whole nation hit rock bottom.

As a Ecuadorian myself I felt that I needed to head over back home as soon as possible to help my people in any way I could. Coincidentally, my sister told me that she had just joined this organization that would travel to some of the most affected areas to help those people in need, organize them, and shelter them. I have always had a passion for sustainability and agriculture and on my free time I have practiced and mastered some gardening skills. On the other hand, my sister loves taking care of our environment and has his own organization for cleaning all the trash in the numerous beaches Ecuador has. When we got to Canoa for the first time we decided that we were going to teach the civilians how to grow their own vegetables and how to recycle.

As an organization we did a lot of different things to help like: doing a census of the damaged houses, networking with other people to collaborate, building tents for shelter and even playing with the kids was a super nice gesture in these town. From all these different tasks I thought that teaching the how to grow vegetables and recycle were some of the most important. The reason is because people need to learn how to live in a way that they can sustain themselves in a clean way and using the resources that they have efficiently especially if they are living in terrible conditions and their resources are scarce. After they learned how to grow and recycle we taught them how to compost and by the time we came back a few months after they were already eating their own vegetables, selling them, gathering their own trash and using their compost to grow their plants. Not only they had become more sustainable but also they were a lot more active and happy because they had something recreational to do that would provide them with something to eat for the future.

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