Students from Ecuador who are studying at St Andrews University have urged people to help them support those devastated by an earthquake back in their homeland.
It was just over a fortnight ago that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country’s northern coast, killing 660 people and leaving many thousands more injured or displaced.
But although they may be miles from home, St Andrews students Gonzalo Leon and Maria Barragan have decided to do whatever they can to provide aid and shelter to those who need it most – starting with a fundraising campaign online.
Mr Leon’s ‘All 4 Ecuador’ project is now up and running with an initial target of £2,000, with donations set to be channelled through the Ecuadorian Red Cross and the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK.
“Despite being such a small community of Ecuadorians studying at such a prestigious University, we cannot remain indifferent in this devastating situation,” he told The Courier.
“We both feel we have the responsibility to help our people, which are now certainly facing precarious and detrimental living conditions.
“It will go against our values those of our university to remain silent and simply observe such tragedy.
“The country is now facing a huge challenge, as the limited infrastructure that the country has is now highly compromised.
“There are thousands of people throughout the country still under the wreckages and in desperate need of aid and shelter.
“Thousands of Ecuadorians have mobilised at home and abroad to help the most needed.
“But as a group of students in the UK, we feel the same way and will strive to do everything within our reach to help too.”
The April 16 disaster hit t he coastal province of Manabi hardest, and that is where most of the fatalities have occurred.
Latest estimates suggest that almost 5,000 people were injured and more than 22,000 people are living in temporary shelters, while hundreds of schools are likely to need rebuilt.
The Ecuadorian government has declared a state of emergency in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Manabi, Guayas, Los Rios, Santa Elena and Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas, as well as a state of exception across all national territory.
“In today’s world, small gestures and actions from people in privileged positions such as ourselves can bring smiles and hope to thousands of people in extreme need,” Mr Leon concluded.
“In these moments of humanitarian crisis, we have a higher duty to do something for the thousands of victims.”
The All 4 Ecuador campaign can be viewed on Mr Leon’s fundraising page at https://www.gofundme.com/5rzvss8c.