On Apr. 16, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter Scale struck the coast of Ecuador. The earthquake is said to be the worst natural disaster faced by Ecuador since the 1987 earthquake and claimed approximately 1,000 deaths. Current reports state that at least 650 people were killed and more than 16,000 others were injured. This tragic event has affected many people around the world, including those within the Connecticut College community. The family of Lorena Mendoza, a staff member from dining services, lost their home in the earthquake. Lorena is a prominent member of the community and is well-liked by the many students who often chat with her in Harris.
There are also several students who have family and roots in Ecuador. In response to the devastation caused by the earthquake, Estephany Galarza ’16, Emilio Pallares ’19 and Ariana Pazmiño ’18 have created a GoFundMe fundraising effort to send aid to those affected. Their goal is to raise a total of $3,000, with $1,000 slotted to go to Lorena Mendoza and her family for the reconstruction of their home in Portoviejo, Manabi, Ecuador. The remaining $2,000 will go towards the purchase of 50 fifty-gallon water tanks and other basic necessities including bottled water, milk, canned goods and toilet paper. As there is limited clean water available, the water tanks are a necessity. Although only open for a week, the GoFundMe has already raised $2,474.
In an interview with Galarza, I gained a deeper understanding of the group’s plan for their fundraising effort. When asked why the group chose to use GoFundMe, Galarza explained that the platform enables the Conn community as a whole to show solidarity for the cause through donations. People may donate directly to the GoFundMe and share the link on social media to urge friends and family to donate as well. According to Galarza, the GoFundMe will close as soon as their $3,000 goal is achieved to ensure that funds are delivered to Lorena’s family and goods are purchased as soon as possible. I asked Estephany to explain where exactly the funds would be going to, since the group has not partnered with an official aid organization, to which she replied that Pallares is leading the fundraising campaign by working directly with his family and connections in Ecuador. The goods will be purchased and distributed in Mendoza’s local community, with pictures and check-ins sent to the group at Conn by way of confirmation once all the supplies are purchased.
The fundraising that the group is participating in is one of the most effective ways in which students on this campus can get involved and make a difference when natural disasters occur. According to Galarza, donating to and volunteering with organizations that are experienced in sending basic necessities and other forms of aid to areas struck by natural disasters are the best ways to help. To conclude, on behalf of the group, Galarza would like to thank everyone who has contributed and helped to raise awareness. The official name of the GoFundMe is “Conn Coll for Ecuador Relief” and is still open for those who would like to donate or share the link on social media. •