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Members of WKU community touched by earthquake in Ecuador

WKU is touched by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Ecuador on April 16. The country has not experienced a disaster of this magnitude in over seven decades.

handclaspThis earthquake has already taken more than 500 lives and injured thousands, with thousands more unaccounted for. According to reliefweb, approximately 2,000 buildings and 280 schools have been destroyed or severely damaged and at least 720,000 persons are directly affected.

The international community has responded and neighboring and far away countries have provided donations and assistance. Many organizations and universities have shown leadership, lending a hand to the disaster victims. As expressed by the Martin Pallares, contributor to The New York Times, “[t]he earthquake is historic not only for the magnitude of the destruction and human suffering, but also for giving rise to the most impressive mobilization of civil society in Ecuador.”

Ecuador is a second home for many WKU faculty members and students like Rose Crouch, who spent one semester at Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and a summer studying with a Service Learning KIIS program. “This beautiful and diverse country is full of kind, welcoming, and hardworking people,” she said. “My heart goes out to each person and community affected by the recent earthquakes.”

WKU broke new ground celebrating the International Year Of program last year, choosing Ecuador as its first global reference. WKU has had more than 20 years of academic and service relationships with Ecuador through study abroad, service learning and teaching abroad programs as well as reciprocal agreements with Universidad San Francisco de Quito and its affiliate K-12 school, Colegio Menor.

Many faculty members and students have asked how they can contribute to rebuilding this country. Early estimates of the rebuilding costs are in the billions of dollars. Those interested in offering support to Ecuador are encourage to identify reputable organizations that deliver all the necessary goods to the affected areas and people directly.

The U.S. Embassy in Quito website displays a dozen links for donations, especially relevant if you are outside Ecuador, such as Oxfam (fights to eradicate poverty in the world), The Ecuadorian Red Cross (supplies kits of humanitarian aid and other assistance), UNICEF (provides water and hygiene kits for families affected by the disaster), Heifer’s and Catholic Relief Services (provides families with shelter, water and food), ShelterBox (offers a customized aid to suit the particular needs of the family), Global Giving (grants relief and recovery efforts from the earthquake) and Operation USA (imparts long-term health, education and development programs following disasters and during times of extreme need). The U.S. Embassy in Quito’s link also includes volunteer opportunities.

Kentucky-Ecuador Partner’s chapter (contact Austin Cantor at ahcantor@twc.com) and Sister Cities of Louisville (Louisville and Quito are Sister Cities; contact sclou@sclou.org) are collecting donations for Ecuador’s disaster relief.

Contact: Sonia Lenk, (270) 745-5906

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