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IU Bloomington students seek help for earthquake victims in Ecuador

Apr. 27, 2016

IU Bloomington sophomores Diego Herrera and Anna Arteaga first heard about this month’s deadly earthquake in their home country in a text message from Arteaga’s sister in Ecuador.

“Oh my God,” the text stated.

diego herrera and anna arteaga

From left, IU sophomores Anna Arteaga and Diego Herrera are collecting items for earthquake relief for their home country of Ecuador. | PHOTO BY CHRIS MEYER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

Herrera didn’t take it seriously at first because earthquakes are common in Ecuador, where he was born and raised. It wasn’t until he started seeing photos on Twitter of cracked streets, crushed vehicles and collapsed buildings from the 7.8 magnitude quake that he knew the impact was devastating.

He called his mom via Skype.

Herrera’s and Arteaga’s families in Quito, the country’s capital city, felt shakes from the quake, but they are safe. For Ecuadorians on the coast, Herrera said, it’s “complete chaos.”

When the initial shock wore off, Herrera and Arteaga, along with fellow IU student Juan Diego Alvarado, took action and founded IU for Ecuador’s Earthquake Victims.

They’re collecting donations of bottled water, blankets, clothes, water filters, flashlights and non-perishable foods. Then they’ll drive up to Chicago and deliver the items to the Consulate General of Ecuador.

“We have a moral obligation as Indiana University students to help those in need. It doesn’t matter where you come from,” Herrera said.

They’re already amazed at the response from IU students and faculty.

After spending an afternoon in the IMU seated behind a yellow, blue and red Ecuadorian flag, they had collected bags full of clothes and lots of bottled water. IU students and faculty donated canned goods covered in messages for earthquake victims written in black permanent marker.

One donor wrote “peace and love” on a can of black beans. The IU symbol was drawn atop another can along with the words “we are with you.”

donated goods

Donated goods from IU faculty and students to offer relief to victims of a recent earthequake in Ecuador. | PHOTO BY CHRIS MEYER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

“We’re surprised by all the support we’ve seen,” Arteaga said. “We’re 18 of 40,000 students.”

The work of raising awareness and collecting donations won’t be finished any time soon, though. Arteaga said the group intends to help earthquake victims in Ecuador over the long term, and she doesn’t expect the work to rebuild to be completed for years.

“It’s the most beautiful country on earth, from the Galapagos Islands to the beaches to snow-capped volcanoes and the Amazon jungle,” Arteaga said. “We wish we could be there and help more directly.”

Want to help? Drop off donations in boxes located in Hodge Hall 2030, the Fine Arts Library, La Casa, Hutton Honors College, Informatics West and the lobby of the Global and International Studies Building.

Get updates on the group's Facebook page.

The students' relief Ecuador project aligns with priorities outlined in the university’s Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including global engagement. 

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