Prayers and monetary help are pouring in from all around the world to aid the Ecuador earthquake victims.

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett, before becoming a nun, wanted to be a movie actress. She used to spend her weekends partying and drinking. Her entry into the religious world was quite by chance.

One day, she signed up for a 10-day trip to Spain, which was free. She was under the impression that the trip involved partying and boozing. By the time she found out that the trip was actually a pilgrimage, it was too late for her to back out.

By the end of the trip, she found religion. It helped her not only change her life for good but the lives of people all around her as well. She was a generous sister. Everybody liked her. She had a special gift for reaching out to young people and children.

Last Saturday , April 16, she was teaching the children to play the guitar, in a school at Playa Prieta, when the earthquake hit. Sister Clare Theresa Crockett died while she was leading the children to safety.

The massive earthquake that struck Ecuador on April 16 was the strongest since 1979. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 500 people and injured over 4,000. Defense Minister Ricardo Patino called the disaster as the worst tragedy in 60 years.

Along with Sister Clare, 5 other members, Catalina, Valeria, Maira, Maria Augusta and Jazmina, from the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother were also killed during the quake. The Spain-based order, in a statement, stated that they mourn the loss of its six members, however, they also realize that death is not the end of the path for them. Sister Clare's body was only found on Monday, under the rubble.

The U.S. bishop's relief and development agency and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have partnered with the local relief organizations to respond effectively to the disaster. According to them, the biggest needs right now include food, water, and emergency shelter. As per Tom Hollywood, the CRS representative for South America, immediate help will be needed for some of the poorest provinces located near the coast. Hollywood said that the quake has played havoc with the country's communication networks.

Pope Francis has sent his condolences to the people of Ecuador. On Sunday, a day after the Ecuador quake, the Pontiff prayed “Regina Coeli” with the hundreds of pilgrims gathered in the St. Peter's Square.

Among the religious groups who have been active in disaster relief in Ecuador is the Church of Scientology. The church’s volunteer group for disaster relief, the Volunteer Ministers, have been actively helping from the beginning of the earthquake. The Scientology disaster response team is in one of the most heavily affected areas, Pedernales, partnering with the Topos of Mexico, another disaster response team trained in the same way as the Volunteer Ministers. The lead volunteer minister for Latin America, who directed the group’s disaster response in Nepal, is also working on search and rescue in the area. Only trained rescue teams are currently allowed into Pedernales because of the delicate situation in the location.

Other Volunteer Ministers not trained in search and rescue are distributing food, water and urgently needed supplies. Those from Quito and Guayaquil traveled to Chone, one of the hardest-hit areas. A national police captain, who has previously worked with the group, accompanied them to help them arrive safely in Chone. They brought with them donated materials collected in Quito and Guayaquil.

Apart from the Volunteer Ministers, individual Scientologists are also helping out. One Scientologist offered his home for the Volunteer Ministers and Topos to stay in. One church member has not been accounted for while two others lost their homes. Fortunately, the members who lost their homes were not hurt and they have joined to help provide relief too. Scientologists from Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Venezuela have also made arrangements with the church to arrive in Ecuador to help.

Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB), a charitable foundation, is holding a fundraiser for the aid of the quake-affected people in Ecuador. FBB is an atheist organization. They will find reputable secular organizations in the area who can do the most good and donate the money to them. In a message posted on their website April 17, the group said “it will take more than prayers to help the people of Ecuador stay safe now and to get back on their feet.” A beneficiary has not yet been announced, but the decision is expected to be made today. Donations can be made here.

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