When Facebook friends asked Hans Bernabe if his family was alright, he had no clue what was going on.
The senior business management major said when he found out there was a major earthquake in Ecuador last week, he worriedly messaged his cousins.
Bernabe is half-Ecuadorian, and most of his father’s family still lives there.
“My family’s alright,” he said. “No one got hurt. It’s very relieving and I’m very thankful.”
The April 16 disaster was South America’s deadliest quake since 1999.
Bernabe said his father’s family lives in a part of Ecuador where the 7.8 magnitude quake didn’t do much damage.
“There was a very little tremor there,” he said. “But one of my little cousins was crying because the houses were moving.”
Although Bernabe’s family is safe, he said he feels the pain of a national tragedy.
“I love telling people about Ecuador,” he said. “It’s a hospitable, welcoming culture. This is a catastrophe.”
Bernabe said he went to Ecuador last Christmas and visits every three or four years. He would, however, like to go back as soon as possible.
“I wish I could go there right now and help,” he said. “My family’s helping all the people that are in need, and I can only do so much.”
Bernabe said he’s proud of his country for providing aid to the suffering and is in awe of how different countries are pitching in.
So far, 27 countries have sent rescue teams, which have helped saved 113 people.
“I don’t think Ecuador expected all of this help,” he said. “Everything happens for a reason. Catastrophes can bring people together.”
The most recent death toll was 654, according to the Ecuadorian government.
International student Jackeline Yagual knew one of the earthquake’s victims.
“When the earthquake happened, one of my friend’s dad died when a bridge collapsed,” the sophomore psychology major said. “It was very shocking for me. I just can’t imagine.”
Like Bernabe, Yagual found out about the earthquake in her home country through social media.
“When I was in Ecuador, I used to do a lot of community service,” she said. “That place is completely destroyed.”
Yagual said through the tragedy, she’s proud of her country.
“People in my country are selfless and hospitable,” she said. “I would love to go over there and volunteer, but it’s hard to just buy tickets and go.”
Yagual said seeing the country uniting makes her homesick.
“The whole country is working together for the same cause,” she said. “It tells a lot about our culture. We love to give all of ourselves just to help others.”
Yagual said she would be grateful on behalf of her home country if other students could donate money. If students are interested, they can contact Yagual at [email protected]
“It’s shocking to see (in pictures) that people are just dead,” she said. “People lost everything. It shows we’re not ever secure in knowing everything in our life will stay together.”