In an effort to aid the victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in coastal Ecuador on April 16, Ajúa Campos, the University’s Latinx student group, began selling raffle tickets in Usdan on Monday, April 25 through Friday, April 29. One ticket went for $5 and three tickets went for $10.

There are four prizes in the Ecuador Earthquake Relief Project raffle: Outdoor Tech Over-the-Ear Headphones, a projector, and two $25 gift cards to Mi Argentina Cuisine on Main Street. According to the group, 100 percent of the money they make through selling raffle tickets will be donated to help buy supplies (e.g. water, canned goods, diapers, first aid) for those affected by the earthquake.

The recent earthquake killed over 500 people, and it is estimated that almost 5,000 people were injured. The earthquake destroyed homes, leaving many individuals wandering through the streets as the aftershocks continued to ravage. Highways still remain in bad shape, people are missing, and many have been left starving and homeless.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry released a press statement on April 17 addressing the issue and speaking out in support of those struggling in Ecuador.

“[My wife] Teresa and I join the people of the United States in expressing our deepest condolences for the tragic loss of life resulting from the earthquake today in Ecuador,” Kerry said in his statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected. We applaud the courage and skill of the first responders and of the talented Ecuadorian medical professionals, who are working so hard to find survivors and save lives. We remain in close contact with Ecuadorian authorities and will continue to monitor the situation closely. We stand by the people of Ecuador in this difficult time and are ready to assist in any way we can.”

Kimberly Heras ’17 and Giselle Torres ’16 helped organize the raffle, which was co-sponsored by Cardinal Tech, ITS, and Mi Argentina Cuisine.

“Ajúa Campos has been raising money because there was an earthquake last weekend on Saturday…and it has left the coast area of Ecuador pretty damaged and we’re trying to raise funds for some of the families that have been affected by it most,” Heras said. “Personally, Giselle Torres and I are taking head of the project because we’re both from Ecuador and we both have family in the country right now. We’re raising funds in order to buy supplies and hopefully partnering up with the consulate in New Haven to send the supplies over to the country.”

Heras also spoke about the support they have been receiving from the student body.

“It’s been really good, people have been really supportive,” Heras said. “We just started selling raffle tickets, so we’re hoping to keep the momentum going and hopefully have more events coming up.”

Torres spoke about what Ajúa Campos has already done on campus and also about the upcoming events they plan to host.

“Our first event was this past Sunday, and we raised about $100 by selling hot chocolate, which ran out in the first hour,” Torres said. “Due to this success, we may repeat the event in the next week or so. This week we are selling tickets to a raffle and we’re going to have a late night food sale either May 2 or 3, sponsored by restaurants on Main Street that have been donating food to us for the event. This project, however, is still waiting to be finalized.”

Torres explained that she became involved with the projects because of her personal connection to Ecuador.

“Being an international student from Ecuador, participating in this project was more than a moral and emotional duty for me,” Torres said. “When I heard about the first earthquake that happened the evening of April 16, 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale, I felt a weird mix of feelings that included shock, worry, and as if I couldn’t really process what had happened.”

Torres also spoke about the importance of the aid they are providing and the difficulties of being away from home in a crisis of this magnitude.

“I found this project as a form of solidarity with those undergoing the aftermath, as a form of gratitude with all the brave volunteers onsite and with the incredible amount of international aid Ecuador has received, but above all, as a form to share my feeling of hope upon seeing humanity mobilized by these types of situations that are beyond our control,” Torres said. “Living tragedy from abroad is feeling in a limbo of anxiety, impotence, and the urge to be back home, to at least hold hands and cry about it together while physically helping out, as we are all Ecuador and we are all in it together as a nation of brothers and sisters.”

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