On Saturday, April 16, while many of us were still sipping our coffee, or watching cartoons with our children, families in Ecuador were scrambling for their lives in the midst of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Buildings were crumbling, the ground was splitting, suddenly destroying homes, businesses, roadways, and hospitals, and the availability of safe water.
Access to safe water in a disaster situation is critical. Without safe water, disinfectant, or proper health and sanitation education, a community’s health is severely compromised. Wounds cannot heal. Disease spreads. And, those who survived the earthquake are highly susceptible to dying from waterborne illness.
Recognizing this need, and possessing the proper technology, WaterStep began making plans to save lives with safe water in Ecuador. Since 2009, WaterStep has met the immediate needs of communities devastated by disaster, such as Costa Rica, Haiti, Philippines, and Nepal. WaterStep’s technology and training not only provides immediate relief, but our approach also promotes long-term, sustainable solutions to these communities. Our effective training in health and sanitation, partnered with our innovative technologies, help restore long-lasting hope and stability to families that have been shattered by disasters through the power of safe water.
On June 4th, a team of students from Indiana Southeast University, led by Dr. Magdalena Herdozia-Estevez, transported 46 chlorinators and 2 bleach makers to Ecuador. Another 54 chlorinators to follow over the next few weeks. These chlorinators can produce up to 1 million gallons of safe water a day to the areas worst affected by the earthquake. Dr. Estevez has graciously leveraged her relationship with IUS and Sister Cities of Louisville to partner with WaterStep, provide funding, and secure the transportation of chlorinators to Ecuador.
The community has also rallied together to show our compassion for our brothers and sisters of Ecuador. University of Louisville School of Music professor, Israel Cuenca, organized a concert to benefit WaterStep’s relief efforts in Ecuador on May 22. The concert raised $3,000 to go towards saving lives with safe water, and brought awareness about the devastation in Ecuador through beautiful music and dance. Read more here
In July WaterStep will send a team of 5-6 safe water experts to Quito to begin training in water chlorination, health education, and sanitation practices. Mark Hogg, CEO/Founder of WaterStep, says, “We work with groups that network together because most people do not know how to make water safe to drink.” For example, Hogg said, “We work with churches with 1,000 volunteers, and we will be there five to six days in an area to set up a training system. Training sessions are in the morning and afternoon to teach people how to operate the disinfectant machines and chlorine generators. We are teaching people to save lives. We are teaching people better health education” WaterStep’s objective is to empower local Ecuadorians to train each other, so that the fruit from these training sessions continues to multiply for years to come.
Please continue to follow the progress of our relief efforts here, and join us in making sure future disasters can be met with the same urgency by donating here.
Thank you for saving lives with safe water, and restoring hope in the midst of disaster! Together, we can do so much more.