On January 18, several of our volunteers traveled to Canoa, one of the beach towns in Manabi Province that participated in our Cash-For-Relief disaster aid program following the catastrophic earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 16 last year.
They came to present Tzu Chi’s long-term relief for this town that was severely damaged, a plan which begins with the rebuilding of the local Catholic church and nun’s house, and the construction of a classroom for the children of the community.
Master Cheng Yen was deeply dismayed when learning about several Catholic nuns in Canoa, whose church and residence were destroyed by the earthquake. She was touched by their deep devotion, seeing how they continued to inspire Canoans on the path of faith and spiritual practice, despite the hardship that had befallen everyone. Our disaster relief mission had helped clear the church of rubble so mass could resume, but Master was determined to do more, and now those plans were about to be revealed.
Over a hundred Canoa residents assembled at the town’s civic center for the reunion and ceremony, along with the Junta Parroquial (the local authorities from Canoa), and an architect who was representing the Mayor of San Vicente, a parish that along with Canoa is part of San Vicente Canton in Manabi Province.
During the reunion, our volunteers presented the project and a 3-D animation of the design of the church, which greatly impressed everyone. They also explained the reason for deciding to rebuild the church, which will provide a peaceful sanctuary and meeting place for the community during the stressful process of rebuilding their homes and lives. When they pointed out that it was Master Cheng Yen’s vision for Canoa, everyone showed their heartfelt support with applause.
Everyone then joined in prayer, holding candles as they sang “One Family,” a song many still remembered.
The question period that followed also revealed that the project would create jobs during the construction period, news that drew another round of applause since the people here are desperate for work as tourism has not returned.
Hearing Tzu Chi’s plans was cause for celebration, as people expressed their eagerness to help rebuild the church, grateful for the opportunity to work together on behalf of their community.
We will keep you updated on the project.