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WOCCU Seeks Donations for Ecuadorian CUs Damaged by Earthquake
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 6:35 AM

The World Council of Credit Unions has initiated earthquake relief efforts to credit unions and their members following Saturday's 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador's northern coast.

WOCCU said it is working closely with its Ecuadorian partner, Coonecta, which is reporting the earthquake damaged 26 credit unions, affecting 252,343 members in the region. As aftershocks continue to shake the region, rescuers search for survivors and credit unions try to reopen, Coonecta said. Power outages, broken communication lines and damage to physical infrastructure are preventing credit union members from accessing their financial resources such as savings, remittances and payment systems.

"It is the worst tragedy in 60 years," Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador's defense minister, said in a statement. "We are facing the most difficult phase right now, which is rescuing victims and recovering bodies."

The temblor was Ecuador's deadliest earthquake since 1987, and the country is expected to "take years to recover," Patiño said.

World Council already had been working to bring payment systems to rural credit unions in the area hardest hit by the quake. Thanks to what it said was "generous support" from CUNA Mutual Group, WOCCU is in the process of providing immediate relief to credit union staff and support credit union rebuilding efforts.

"Much-needed cash contributions from the global credit union industry and individuals will offer additional assistance to those whose lives have been devastated," WOCCU said.

Over the last three years, World Council has raised more than $500,000 to rebuild credit unions in the Philippines and Nepal following natural disasters in 2013 and 2015, respectively. With support from the global credit union movement, World Council has leveraged its resources to rebuild hundreds of financial institutions, improve infrastructure and bring rehabilitation services to millions of members in these countries.

To support the rebuilding of Ecuadorian credit unions, donations via check, credit card or wire may be sent to:

Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, Inc.
5710 Mineral Point Road
Madison, WI 53705, USA

WOCCU adds: Please indicate your donation is designated for Ecuador Earthquake Relief.

Donations also can be made online at www.woccu.org/give.