Published on
9 January 2024

In April 2016, a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 that was followed by 713 aftershocks struck Ecuador. This catastrophe took a tragic toll: 650 people were killed and 29,000 became homeless; and damages were estimated at 2 billion dollars.

The canton of Pedernales, located in the northeast of the country, was particularly affected, notably the city of Cojimies, which was 80% destroyed.

However, amidst this tragedy, rays of hope emerged. Several families who had lost everything in the disaster found refuge on unoccupied land in the village of Nuevo Cojimies, which now has 1,000 inhabitants. Faced with the addition of these new families and the need to repair infrastructure damaged by the earthquake, villagers mobilized to obtain aid, including from the Roncalli International Foundation.

Since 2016, the Foundation has supported the village multiple times, including precious aid for the reconstruction of the Hermano Miguel primary school, which was condemned after the earthquake. The reopening of the school allowed children to resume their studies in improved conditions, but something essential was still missing: an outdoor gymnasium.




With help from the congregation the Religious of Jesus and Mary and the support of the Roncalli Foundation, an outdoor gymnasium (cancha) measuring 30 by 20 metres was built. This project, which received $26,483 in funding from the Foundation, transformed the space into a versatile facility.

George Murillo, the mayor of the village, organized the labour, supervised volunteer work, and coordinated the purchase of necessary materials. The community, including parents and residents, rallied to contribute.

Today, this space not only serves as a venue for physical education classes but also functions as a vibrant playground for children and a dynamic meeting point for adults. Equipped with facilities for basketball, football, and volleyball, this outdoor gymnasium provides a healthy and entertaining environment for both students and the entire community.




The gymnasium has had an immediate impact on the 100 schoolchildren, their parents, and the entire community. The Hermano Miguel school, a source of pride for the village, has become a gathering place for the entire municipality. It is used to host various events, meetings, conferences, celebrations, dances, and much more. For the residents of Nuevo Cojimies, this outdoor gym symbolizes hope, unity, and the promise of a better future for generations to come.

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