I would like to introduce you to Eriopaguita.
She’s 40 years old. A mother of 4 – Josselin 13, twins Luis David 11 & Luis Moises 11 and Escarleth 5yrs.
They live in Perdanales, a small beach resort that sits on Ecuador’s long Pacific coast…one of the cities closest to the epicenter of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit on April 16th 2016.
I first visited Pedernales 3 months after the quake hit to assess the progress of recovery. It still looks like you are entering a warzone. The quake lasted less than a minute but nearly every single house came down.
People are scared and struggle to know what the future holds.
Can you even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose everything and 6 months on still living in such a desperate way?
‘Once-private spaces are open for everyone to see. Shower rooms with no walls. An empty pink high chair teetering on the edge of a room that is at an angle. A set of medals pinned to the wall of a family home’.
Eriopaguitas’ home was also destroyed during the quake, they are now living in a makeshift tent, some plastic thrown over bamboo. Their living condition is poor, their water comes from the river and they still have, 6 months on, neither light nor electricity.
They are obviously traumatized, her children look sad, picking up on the anxiousness of their mothers daily struggle to find, borrow or beg for their food.
She doesn’t want to live like this. She wants to work!
Her neighbor told me, “She cries a lot every day but tries to be strong in front of her children”
Eriopaguitas’ small business, her pots, pans and food stock was also destroyed during the earthquake.
She used to sell ‘salchipapa’ (thinly sliced beef sausages and potatoes) to the local community; its a favorite street food snack of the local people.
She is a good cook, wants to start her business again and she knows this popular snack food has a good solid long term market. She would love to expand her business and make her profits even higher.
“The addition of a small push cart would enable me to sell to an even wider community.”
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Her greatest fear is that someone in her family will become ill, and they won’t have enough money to pay for the doctor and medicine.
Her greatest dream is that her children can study and have a future – something she could never have.
At 8 years old Eriopaguita, her father dead and mother sick, was already working. Married at 18 years old and after 4 children she finally ran away as she could no longer tolerate the beatings from her husband.
Can you help her to help herself?
‘A hand up not a hand out’
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To set her family back on the road to recovery, to save a little each week to build a small home and have money ready for medical emergencies as well as keep her children fed and in school her needs are:
- A ‘Salchipapa’ push cart
- A gas cylinder, an aluminum tray
- An aluminum sieve
- 5 sacks of potatoes
- 1 gallon of oil
- 5 kilos of sausages
- 100 bowls and 100 small forks.
Total cost $500
Per month she estimates her income will be $350.
Each month she spends a minimum of $150 per month on her family. It’s a good sustainable business.
$500 will change her families life generationally – so little can do so much.
Can you help her to help herself?
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Please click on the donate button and put in the amount you can help – or chose an item you would like to give?
Every dollar counts
Media defines disaster and when the cameras move on thousands and thousands of displaced, traumatized families who have survived the disaster are then … forgotten. They have survived but have no means of re-building their lives again. No social security, no financial security.
Can you help and give her back hope for her children’s future?
Thank you so very much. Love Linda from on the Frontline x