A Call to Action
“There comes a moment when life calls you to volunteer. This is my time,” says Santiago Cartagena of the PMI Ecuador Chapter. For Santiago, the moment came after a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador in 2016 killing at least 676 and injuring more than 16,000 people. 700,000 people needed immediate assistance with 90 percent of infrastructure destroyed in many areas. Affecting some of the poorest regions of the country, the earthquake left thousands of people displaced, including some of its most vulnerable. This was the worst natural disaster in the country’s history since 1949. Santiago and the PMI Ecuador Chapter knew they needed to do something to help.
A Call to Volunteer Following the Ecuador Earthquake
A Valuable Partnership
The chapter felt the best way to help those in need was to partner with local NGOs that already had outreach networks in place in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, one of the worst affected provinces. OVCI is an NGO whose mission is to implement rehab projects to better ensure the equitable treatment of women suffering economic challenges and physical disabilities. Santiago and the chapter teamed up with OVCI to provide project management training and support—both to the organization and directly to the women of the region.
How A Little Project Management Can Go A Long Way
OVCI and the PMI Ecuador Chapter are teaching women project management with an emphasis on concepts like project scope, developing a schedule, and adhering to a budget. The training materials they use are adapted to accommodate deaf or blind participants like Mariana Guerrero, a store owner whose story is inspiring to us all. Mariana is blind and lost her home in the earthquake. Her husband also got sick and died two days after the earthquake occurred, making Mariana the sole provider for her family. But she didn’t let these setbacks stop her. She continues to run her store from the government housing she lives in now. "As a volunteer, first you focus a lot on the project management tools. Then you realize that project management is beyond just tools…it’s the support, the backing, being with the people,” Santiago observes. “Mariana teaches us with her example. You create this giving and receiving, giving and receiving.”