The Spirit of Solidarity in Post Earthquake Ecuador

Monserrate Mendoza and Plutarco Zamora
take in dozens of Venezuelan volunteers.

Monserrate Mendoza is in her kitchen tending a huge pot of coffee brewing on her stove. She looks positively tiny compared to the three Venezuelan firefighters around her who are helping prepare that night's meal for dozens of their compatriots.

Mendoza and her husband Plutarco Zamora have opened the doors of their home to 180 volunteers from Venezuela to help in the aftermath of the 7.8 earthquake that struck Ecuador April 16.

Their house has been turned into a de facto operations center, where volunteers can have a hot meal, a fresh shower, or get some much needed rest.

Mendoza and Zamora saw a need and they acted. Mendoza says she didn't even think twice about offering up her home to these men and women from Venezuela who came out of vocation.

“I'm the kind of woman who likes to give a little bit to everyone from my plate, even if it means there's less for me,” Mendoza tells teleSUR.

After two weeks, the couple and the Venezuelans have grown close. Zamora has nothing but glowing praise for them and their work here.

“President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has sent a very important contingent to our province, they have left everything behind with the aim of providing their skills here,” he tells teleSUR.

The work of the volunteer rescuers has been indispensable in these trying moments. A total of 113 people were rescued alive from the debris of fallen buildings by rescuers from over a dozen countries.

“I now think of them as part of my family … I hope Maduro doesn't send the plane yet, that he lets them stay here longer with us,” says Mendoza.

She says that hosting the Venezuelans has actually been a boost to her health; and believes she survived her health battles precisely so she could serve her country in this moment.

Zamora celebrated a birthday recently and had the chance to celebrate with dozens of the volunteers. When asked about it, both their faces light up with joy.

“It was a beautiful experience … I will never forget for the rest of my days,” he says.

Monserrate Mendoza and Plutarco Zamora capture the spirit of solidarity that emerged after the earthquake.

They have high praise for the response of Ecuador's government to the earthquake, admiring how the president, his ministers, and lawmakers from his party have been present on the coast, sharing the pain of those who lost so much.

If natural disasters sometimes have a way of drawing out the best in people, this is definitely true of Ecuador. The efforts of people like Menzoda and Zamora, who didn't suffer any personal losses in the quake, served to reveal the very real love people here have for their neighbors.

Their love is underpinned by an overwhelming sense of hope as well.

“We are convinced that we won't look back at the tragedy, the pain, and the anguish. We will look to the horizon,” says Zamora.