Nova Scotia

CBU nursing students raise money for Ecuador earthquake victims

A group of Cape Breton University nursing students and instructors who visited Ecuador in February to gain broader professional experience are now trying to help those affected by this weekend's devastating earthquake.

'This disaster is heart-wrenching,' says nursing student Jen MacNeil, who visited the country in February

A group of CBU nursing students visited Ecuador in February to broaden their professional experience and to learn about another culture. (Submitted by Belinda Andrea)

A group of Cape Breton University nursing students and instructors who visited Ecuador in February to gain broader professional experience are now trying to help those affected by this weekend's devastating earthquake.

Some of them have formed a Facebook group to raise awareness and have collected several hundred dollars, which have been sent to Gaby Herrera, a young woman who worked as the group's translator during its time in Ecuador.

Herrera has been volunteering in the relief effort in Puerto Portovelo, one of the areas hardest-hit by Saturday's 7.8 magnitude quake, which has killed more than 500 people in the country.

On Facebook she has written about the lack of government support for many of the country's smaller towns and villages, and invites people to donate money to help those desperate for relief.

"They are without water and electricity and are also running out of food," she wrote. "They are currently sleeping in an outdoor soccer field, which means that Zika virus is also a potential threat. With your help we will be able to buy mosquito nets and insect repellant as well as food, water, and some construction materials to rebuild their houses."

The devastating earthquake in Ecuador killed hundreds, and destroyed more than 1,400 buildings. (Patricio Ramos/Associated Press)

Fourth-year CBU nursing student Jen MacNeil said news of the earthquake was "heart-wrenching." Even when she visited Ecuador, long before the natural disaster, she was moved by the poor living conditions there, she said.

"We saw communities that have absolutely no government support," she said.

Another student, Madison Andrea, said she feels a special connection because she visited the country such a short time ago.

"We are all trying our best to give what we can to help the people of Ecuador," she said.

Grateful for the support, Herrera said there is a need, in general, for things such as medicine, surgical gloves, alcohol for wounds, water, food, including cat and dog food, camping tents, sleeping bags and, unfortunately, coffins.

"Every penny counts, a little bit goes a very long way in Ecuador," said Herrera.

International aid organizations, such as the Red Cross, are appealing for donations that will go directly to relief efforts in Ecuador.

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