YFU Switzerland

Earthquake, new beginnings and the loss of a beautiful person

Hello everyone,

It’s been a long time since my last blog post. In this time there has happened so much. Mostly terrible things.

But I’ll start from the beginning.

On monday, 11. of april, I left by bus to Machala, where I had been once earlier in October, to visit my friend Noelle and her host family. We spent a nice time and had a lot of fun.

Then on the 16th of april we went to a birthday party for Noelle’s grandfather. The whole family was having a great time until at about 7 pm. someone started moving my chair. Well, at least that was what I thought. It took me some time to realize that it was an earthquake. Most of the adults thought they were drunk at first until they realized. Luckily we were outside in the garden and the earthquake wasn’t that strong in Machala. But it still was very scary feeling the earth shake for more than one minute and not knowing what was going on. But then it stopped and we all calmed down. Until later that evening someone looked at the news on the phone and came to me saying “In Manabí there are dead people.” The city I live in, Portoviejo, is stated in the province of Manabí, so of course I got super scared and ran to pick up my phone, and saw I had more than 15 missed calls from my host family. Of course I called back immediatly and they told me that the earthquake had been extremely strong in Portoviejo, but that they luckily are all fine and there are no big damages where we live (a place a bit outside of the centre). I was relieved but still texted all of my friends in Portoviejo to know if they were fine. What luckily was the case.

Later that evening we saw the news and that was when I first realized how terrible it had been in Manabí. An entire village called Pedernales, where the epicentre was, has been destroyed, the big cities Portoviejo and Manta are destroyed, there are more than 700 dead people and thousands have lost their homes. To me it’s still unbelievable that this really happened. That it happened where I used to live and how lucky I am that I left Portoviejo just 5 days before it happened. Who knows where I would have been that day. Maybe in the centro, where so many houses fell apart as if they were made out of paper.

The news are still full of messages about the earth quake even though people have started to calm down.

It is really hard for me to see all the photos of Portoviejo, of the buildings I have walked past so many times and that don’t exist anymore. The worst for me is not being able to be there and just seeing everything from the distance. YFU hasn’t allowed me to return to Portoviejo to my host family, because the situation there is horrible. They are afraid of epidemics and aftershocks. I have never got the chance to say good bye to my host family or my friends and it makes me really sad. The other exchange students have been evacuated from the area too.



The bad road conditions make it diffidult to reach the desperate people

I found some photos on the Internet, I would like to post here, so you can imagine what it looks like.

In the shop next to this destroyed building, that says “Enrique”, I went to cut my hair









So, now I live here in Machala and am trying to build a total new life for the last 2 months. I live with a very nice host family and my school is nice too. I have 3 host sisters that are 5, 8 and 19 years old.

But I will write more about that another day. There’s another message I would like to tell.

A german girl, that came here to Ecuador with YFU too and lived in Manta didn’t survive the earthquake.

I don’t even know how to write about it, it’s so incredibly sad. She was a girl just like me. With hopes, dreams and the desire to get to know a total new culture. I didn’t know her very good, but I have talked to her and she was so happy here in Ecuador. She felt at home here, had a strong relation with her host family and just loved her life here. And then this happens. Her and her host family went to buy things for school when the earthquake happened. They were missing about 4 days and I was so convinced they would find her, so full of hope. I know it is naive, but I didn’t even think it was possible, that she could be found dead. I just couldn’t believe it and to be honest I still haven’t totally realized it.

Nené Breidenbach we will remember you as the girl with a big smile on your face everyday, as a person that loved to laugh and as a girl with a very warm heart.

My thoughts are with her german family now and I’m sure that if heaven really exists, she is there now, surrounded by her wonderful host family, looking down on earth.

Before I end this post I also want to mention something that really warms my heart.

It is so beautiful to see how everyone here tries to help. Through donating food, water, clothes, medicaments, diapers or through taking the long drive to get all these things to the affected areas. Also from many other south american countries such as Mexico, Peru and Chile there have come many teams to help rescueing, but also from Europe there are some experts, trying to help where they can.

Ecuador has been in a financial crisis since november, so that is another problem they have here. If you have the capacity to donate, please do it.

Ecuador needs you now!

I hope I can write more soon. I’m going to Galápaos this week with YFU, so that is a thing I’m really excited for. Nené would have come too, so that is very sad. But I think she would have wanted us to enjoy the trip, so that’s what we’ll try to do.

I hope I will have many nice photos to post the next time I write a blog post.

Until then, chao and have a nice day