helping ECUADOR rebuild

First off thank you to all who have asked how I can help... 

It has been a little difficult to create a system that I know I could stand behind and make sure that your help and support would 100% be making a difference and one that we can deliver on. 

So here is how. 

1) Please donate
2) Please share
3) Please don't stop coming to Ecuador. Ecuador is still gorgeous and I have never seen such solidarity in a people then Ecuadorians. By visiting Ecuador you are helping the people and the country rebuild. Which I have no doubt it will and your help will make a difference. My first friend from Canada arrives today to help.

Right now I have a list of 277 people (and growing quickly)  of families that do not have enough food on the table to feed their kids or themselves. 

What we (the locals of Santa Marianita)  have created is the following system how we can help these people. 

1) We are verying each families unique needs by going to the households and accessing the situation. 
2) We are purchasing food and supplies and organizing the care packages cases that fit the needs of the families.
3) We are then distributing these care packages directly to the families. 

So this is how YOU can help us help them. 

I want to thank you all in advance. It is my 40th birthday next month and in exchange for bday wishes I would love for you to help and support us down here. Santa Marianita was unscathed. Ecuablue is open as a distro center along with the Donkey Den for lodging displaced people. However, I live in Manta 10kms north where it was not the case (as it wasn't in much of northern Ecuador.) As any tragedy goes, so many lives were senselessly lost due to sub standard engineering......

I was fortunate and I wanted to share my story with you as it is just one story of tens of thousands. I love this country even more having been here through this with these people. Its a wonderful country and it will get through it with your support. 



Johnny Megalos 


I was at supermaxi picking up things to cook and my equilibrium went way off and I wasn't sure if I was about to faint.  Seconds later I felt a tremble and said to myself: this is an earthquake. 

Then boom. 

Within 3 seconds the power was out, the sub-roof started collapsing and everything was thrown off the shelves. The sound was like 100 subways trains passing by all at once. The screams were like nothing I have heard before.  I had a millisecond to make a choice: either jump under the shelves for protection from the failing ceiling or flee for the front.  I fled. 

I couldn't think very well ATM. I only saw frames of people screaming and crying and people frozen by panic but praying.  I was outside, on the street.  The whole city was powerless with debris and power lines down everywhere. My ears were ringing, my mind was numb and my friend was on the 14th floor. My first clear thought was to see if my friend was ok. I jumped in the VW and raced through the chaos. Driving over downed power lines, large crevices in the road, debris, madness and darkness. 

When I finally arrived at my building everyone had been evacuated but Zu was nowhere to be found. They were not letting anyone in the building and there were warnings of another quake and a possible tsunami. I didn't believe the tsunami was likely to happen because we are on the coast.  In that moment, that did not make sense to me even though it makes sense.     

I tried multiple times to enter the building without success and then  the generators failed. I said f-this and told them again that my friend was trapped and that I was going in. They said wait a bit. I said no. 

Two guys followed me up 30 flights of stairs. Good thing they did. When we got to my door we found it jammed. I was bare foot and the one guy kicked the glass out and grabbed the emergency axe. We then proceeded to chop the door down. That didn't work. Thank god the guys followed me because it took all three of us to kick it open and free Zu. They fled and I was stunned a little thinking what can I grab. At the bottom I realized I lost my keys to VW bus. 

More tsunami warnings were coming in. I was more than freaking out at that point and had no idea what to do. I was certain we could not flee fast enough on foot and at that point I had a group of 6 looking for assistance as well. Frank and Wanda and elderly couple, some lady I still don't know what her name was, and my friend Carlos and Zu so I said f-it again. 

Back up I went - 30 more flights but I didn't find my keys.  I threw in what I could grab in three bags and folded two blankets and four pillows and a about two litres of water. By the time I reached the bottom I was toast, barefoot, and in pieces. I was also still keyless but I grabbed  a tool belt in heat of the moment while I upstairs.  The VW has the most basic ignition sitting in a man - made holder to the right. Access was easy and I played deduction and managed to figure out how to hot wire it. So off we fled for higher ground. We were headed for Monticristi.  My cell was still working in and out.  The city already started evacuating so the highway was backed up for miles and miles.  A lot more people had keys then me. Fortunately, I was able to turn around right after we drove over 3 huge crevices  of highway.  My friend Jordan called me and we deliberated for a couple minutes over the tsunami warning and were it would be safest to hold down the fort. 

I took his advice that 100 meters above sea level and a couple kilometers away would be safe enough should the tsunami hit (it is three days later and while I am typing this two tremors have passed strong enough to shake my VW bus as I type). We headed out to Cookes and Bills, a 75 year lovely couple from Sacremento. When we arrived candles were burning and we all had a minute to catch our breath and regroup. We sat and talked in the courtyard amongst every emotion.   I don't have the words to describe it but if I did I don't think I would share further out of respect for all of the people I was with that night.

We were told the tsunami warning had gone down a level and that by 1:00am we should be ok. My aunts Carol and Deb managed to get a call through to me from Canoa where they we hit hard and I was able to speak to my brother for one minute. That was 3 days ago. Since then I have only been able to send a couple bits of info. 

After Cookes and Bill we head out to a hotel in Monticristi (a friend of Carlos (Guiermos.) We spent the night in comfort in darkness and no water. Thankful and fearful what was to be the aftermath.

The aftermath. 

We woke up and Carlos managed to get some buns and cheese for breakfast and I brought a couple down to Frank and Wanda. They just kept saying that they didn't know what they would have done if I didn't help them. I kept telling them they would have done the same and that I was glad they were ok.  I went up to my room to grab my bags and splash some cold water on myself and was filled with gratitude and sadness. I knew from what I already saw that there was going to be a lot of lost lives and that many people were with loss and without. 

We packed up and headed back to Manta. Daylight revealed the extreme damage that had ripped through this town. We headed back to my condo. The building stood strong and had cosmetic damage. The condominium building beside it was in pieces. I am not an engineer but had it been another minute I think it would have fallen. There was no power and I was sure it was going to be days before it reopened. I placed Frank and Wanda in the care of Ryan and Tiff and they got them set up in Manta in a hotel. I thought well, better go to Santa Marianita where I have food stock, water stock and gas operated appliances and cook some food for people.  Jerry and Christina passed by and saw what I was up too and proceeded to empty their fridge with me. I cooked a bunch of things, packed them in coolers and then things got really bad. 

Carlos got word that his pregnant sister was trapped in a building in Tarqui that had mostly collapsed. We left and picked up a family of four on the highway that needed to get to Manta. We dropped them off along the way. I was unable to get the VW bus close to the scene. It was getting dark again as well. And there was an eerie feeling in the air. We waited and got as much info as we could and there was nothing we could do. Hopeless and without options I got us a room in manta and purchased a 13 dollar measured shot of Johnny Walker red. The generators were working for about an hour and all seemed to be normal there. Then we lost all power. Again in the darkness. 

I couldn't imagine what Carlos was feeling. By 1:00amI had nothing left. I needed to shut my eyes. Carlos on pure adrenalin came back to the room at 7:30am. Without sleep and with rest. We packed up the room grabbed a little food and we headed out to the scene giving firefighters some water and a cooler of precooked food. Again not able to access the scene I left Carlos and I went back to Manta to reserve another night. I came back to the meeting spot scene and waited about an hour.

they had pulled her out and unfortunately she and her unborn child were dead. 

close friends had already come to support Carlos. The tears, horror, and pain were like meeting a living thing that made you feel death and suffering. All within the back drop of where the scene occurred. I didn't know what to do. I had only know these people a short time. I felt their helplessness and I couldn't articulate the words.  I simply said 'yo no tengo pablalars'. I then loaded them all up in the bus to go to the church cemetery where she was placed in a casket and wrapped in plastic. I saw many trucks filled with tragedy and families left in the wake. I stayed outside as it didn't feel right to go in. As soon as they went in my togetherness left me. The tears poured not only for Carlos and his family but for the families of Ecuador.

When they left we headed to his sister's house where they had a wake. Carlos was met by the wailing and screaming of her husband who just lost wife and child. Carlos held him up with what energy he had left. It was then that the beauty of the people of Ecuador was affirmed to me. Every neighbor came out to pay respects. Many finding out for that their friend died. Again sadness is a word.  Seeing the sadness ... my hugs wouldn't offer much. 

We the proceeded to the final burial. It was at this point I started writing this. Again I did not enter the ceremony out of respect after multiple requests to join them. I sat in the VW bus compelled to write this.
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Johnny Megalos 
Etobicoke, ON
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