There are so many things that we worry about every day. The real problems in life are the things that you don’t see coming, the things that blindside you out of nowhere. Like the 3am phone call we got from Rolando’s sister on Sunday morning to tell us there has been a serious earth quake in Ecuador. It was a very short call to tell us that the family was safe but had been evacuated from their homes. We didn’t have too many details about exactly who was where.
Sunday was a long day of worrying and waiting. We were desperate for any more concrete news. The pictures on the 24 hour news channels showed parts of Rolando’s home town that had been completely destroyed. Our Facebook feeds were filled with pictures of familiar streets now full of fallen buildings and rubble. I had to stop looking at the images as it just made me more desperate and worried.
It is hard to be so far away from family during a crisis – helpless to do anything practical. The priority is to send money to Rolando’s family as soon as the banks reopen. We think that this might be possible tomorrow.
In some ways the internet was a blessing. People we knew were marking themselves safe on Facebook so we knew that lots of friends were okay. We had a message from Rolando’s brother in law who was in the capital who gave us an update and sent us an alternative mobile number for Rolando’s sister.
At midnight we finally got through to Rolando’s mum and sisters. They reassured us that they were safe and that all of the immediate family and their children, plus aunties and cousins were all accounted for and together. Everyone spent a second night in the evacuation centre. We think Rolando’s mum and sister may have lost their houses but we don’t know for sure.
There have been a lot of aftershocks. Everyone is very scared. We spoke to Rolando’s nephew this evening and he was very upset and nervous. A lot of people are sleeping outside because they feel safer in the open air. There was no electricity at all across the city and food is running short in the shops.
We are very fortunate that everyone is safe, a lot of people have lost loved ones – the death toll currently stands at 350 people. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost family and friends. It all puts life into perspective. Give your loved ones an extra big hug. Look for things to be grateful for in every day.
There will be another news story in the headlines soon but it will take a long time for people in Ecuador to recover and rebuild. Please remember the people affected in your thoughts and prayers. If you feel that you can please donate to the Oxfam Emergency Disaster Appeal.