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Illusions dragged by mud

Hundreds of families in Manabí lose everything after floods.

Sofia only could save the clothes she was wearing after mud fell over her house. She lost everything but, luckily, the most value thing at her house left with her. Now she recognizes that, even though her house would have been constructed with stronger materials, it destiny was to end filled by water and mud.

Sofía tells, still in shock that during the night started to rain without a break and with super human strengthen. The noise and the smell from the soil woke her up from her bed and she barely had time to wake her family and run away with the things they found first. She was carrying in her arms her four months old baby who was recovering from a recent and intense flue, but she has to choose between leaving the house and being drag by a mud mountain.

Along with her other four years old son and four more people from her family, they went towards the highest elevations with the aim to wait until the danger was gone. Without knowing what to do until the rain stops, they decide to cut some banana trees leaves, place them on the ground and sleep on them. She hugged both of her children to keep them as warm as she could, despite the wet clothes, and she prayed for their safety and that daylight comes as soon as possible.

Next morning, ‘we went to the house and everything was on the floor, destroyed and everything useless’, explains Sofía. Her house and her neighbours were reduced to rubbles that, with the power of Manabí’s sun, soon were going to be paste to each other due to the dry mud which turned into concrete.

After this episode, all the people from her community were evacuated to Cruz Alta de  Miguelillo’s school. Some of them manage to stay in families’ houses. Other ones did not have such luck and they had to spend the night in a place where there were not enough blankets or mattresses for the 26 families. ‘I don’t what will happen to us because I have no diapers to change the baby or milk to feed him. Even though he is breastfeeding as well, he was so scare that he wouldn’t take the breast’, she says sadly.

After the first day, the local authorities counted 150 affected families, 50 families who had to be evacuated from the Cruz Alta de Miguellito community, in Manabí.

However, there was not a lack of food in the school turned into shelter because Soraya, who found out what happened, went with two daughters and tons of rice to make sure no one was left without a food plate. ‘I’ve lost my house with the floods that dropped three days before the earthquake and I couldn’t save anything, only a mattress’, she remembers. ‘Those were hard times because we did not know how we would move on and that’s why we decided to come without given it too much thinking. I know what this is and I don’t want anybody else experiencing it’.

By eating a rice and tune plate due to Lent –Soraya considered this when carrying the ingredients-, Sofía remembers how since she was little she took part in Plan International’s workshop. She was a volunteer in her community until she had her children and her time was too short but her collaboration spirit did not disappear and before going to eat, she was distributing some of the basic products that began to arrive. At the end, there was more toilet paper than bathrooms since the school only has one and it does not have a shower nor a space to offer a space where to take care of her baby.

The need of this help is urgent and even more important is after in less than a year, Ecuador’s coast has been through floods and earthquake which hasn’t allowed to go back to normality nor leaving poverty to many families, not only in Cruz Alta de Miguelillo but in the entire Manabí province. In addition, it seems that the worst is yet to come. While Sofía finishes her rice plate, one of the people there says: ‘it’s been decades since it rained this much and I know this is only the beginning because March and April are the rainy months and whenever I think about it, I’m very scared’.

Plan International's response to the situation focuses on the basic needs of the affected families, through the distribution of water, food and hygene kits for 3.000 perople. At the same time, Plan International works on child protection from any type of violence during this situation.