Make Community Rebuilding Reality

  • Social Good
  • Latin America

How the PMI Ecuador Chapter helped bring a local community back to life in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

"There comes a moment when life calls you to volunteer. This is my time," said Santiago Cartagena of the PMI Ecuador Chapter.

A deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador in 2016, killing at least 676 and injuring more than 16,000 people. With 90% of its infrastructure destroyed, the community needed immediate assistance.

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.

"We all have a responsibility to give back to life what we've been given"

To leverage established connections in the region, the chapter sought out local NGOs and found OVCI, whose mission is to implement rehabilitation projects for the equitable treatment of women living with economic challenges and physical disabilities. Santiago and the PMI Ecuador Chapter teamed up with OVCI to provide project management training and support—both to the organization and directly to the women of the region, spending countless days with the community.

For Santiago, this meant looking beyond core project management methodologies. "At first you focus on project management tools. Then you realize that project management is beyond just tools. It’s the support, the backing, the being with the people."

The answers to a tragedy were not just technical project management and building skills. They were community-building skills: empathy, understanding, compassion, and leadership.

Since the 2016 earthquake, PMI Ecuador Chapter members like Santiago have trained over 300 residents and helped rebuild or start 60 self-sustaining businesses.

Like Santiago found, the time comes to volunteer, the time comes to apply the skills you’ve learned, and the time comes to turn ideas into reality. Because some projects change communities—others, the world.

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