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JAMA – MANABI – ECUADOR –  Young Valentina sits in the doorway while her Aunt Marie and Uncle Edgar show cracks in what I thought was their temporary home.  Marie and Edgar, I discovered, live elsewhere.

“When we feel weak, we drop our heads on the shoulders of others. Don’t get mad when someone does that. Be honored. For that person trusted you enough to, even if subtly, ask you for help.”
― Lori Goodwin

Ecuador – There seems to be a running clock/calendar that keeps track of the days and months since the earthquake destroyed much of Ecuador’s central and northern coast.  Each month when the calendar approaches ’16,’  I note the time and remember the 7.8 earthquake that hit just after 7 pm on April 16th.     Does anyone ever get past that feeling of premonition – or wondering if it might hit again?

Jama Ecuador before the earthquake…. 11 months later – that landscape has changed.  Vacant lots guard the memories of houses that once lined these streets.

Edgar and Marie salvaged boards, windows and doors from their collapsed 2-story home and now live in a temporary tent on the site.


At night they sell cold drinks at the site where they once hosted friends while enjoying weekend ceviches before and after the futbol games.

Salvaged lumber from their old home.

Like most, they know what they’d like to do but lack funds to buy supplies and pay workers.

“How hot is it in there?” I asked after we stepped back outside. I guessed 45 C, but Edgar thought it was closer to 50.

Stop by for a cold cervesa or agua; every little bit helps!

Edgar and Maria do not have an on-site kitchen, but their family usually joins her parents who have moved six or so blocks down the street.    Throughout town, one sees progress, yet there are still a lot of people hoping for better days.

Housing communities replace the tent cities, yet how difficult it must be to be crammed into such petite spaces? Each family has a story; are they happy? Do they feel safe? Do I dare tip into their lives and inquire?

“After a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment.”
― Judith Lewis Herman,

Across town I met a new friend.  Wearing a hand-made blouse, Isabel invited me to see her make-shift home and hear her story of the night of the earthquake.

Isabel cooks on an open fire and sells little cubes of cakes.  I brought her a new blouse, and she gave me about four cubes of cake!

Isabel lives in this house, which is beside her niece’s little home.

The area behind the houses serves as the kitchen,.

She cooks here.

Her niece’s kitchen has a refrigerator, but no appliances. Isabel cut the cake with a large spoon…

Isabel’s home.

“If you are here today… you are a survivor. But those of us who have made it thru hell and are still standing? We bare a different name: warriors.”
― Lori Goodwin

My friend Luchy cracks coconuts for the family!

11 months ago at this hour, the people were scrambling, trying to make sense of what had just happened.  Their world had ripped apart.  It was raining;  a tsunami warning added more fear and uncertainty to their nightmare.  People were injured, dead,  lost, frightened, disoriented.   There were no phone signals, no electricity.   They are survivors, and they are all warriors.