“We have a lot of problems here. And we have a lot of craftsmen and culture. My vision is, that we can use our assets and sell them to visitors. With that money we can send our children to universities. We can solve problems, deliver better work and receive more life quality. As the president of the local community I want to contribute what I can to reach this goal.”
On first steps
“When you do something as your work, you’ll do good. When you do something as your passion, you’ll do better. Develop and feel the love for what you’re doing, define goals, believe in the bigger picture that combines the steps to get there. And don’t forget to take action!”
community president & furniture aficionado
My dear friend Martin Trümmel and his brother Thomas dedicated a fair amount of time and effort to importing handmade furniture from Ecuador, sell it in Austria and pay their producers fair prices. They took action. And did import a full shipping container of Ecuadorian craftsmanship. Read the story here! One of their manufacturers was Luis Coronado. Martin and Thomas connected us and I paid him a visit in his village in Ecuador. And found out, that his true passion goes far beyond crafting furniture. Luis’ vocation is helping people. And he’s doing a pretty awesome job!
There was a massive magnitude-7.8 earthquake in April 2016
The epicenter was on the Ecuadorian coast. In the small village Libertador Bolivar, close to the beach town Montanita, forty houses were destroyed. In other parts they weren’t that lucky. Official death tolls climbed to over 650 people. Luis Coronado is president of the community of Libertador Bolivar and was in lead of helping victims and rebuilding the aftermath. „We had hardly any help from the government here, for in other regions the destruction was much more fatal – they had to focus their resources.“ But yet there were forty families in Libertador Bolivar who lost their homes.
Luis is the president of his community and took things into his own hands
In the past year, they have built fourteen houses from bamboo they got from another region. Don Lucho, as people here call Luis respectfully, has searched for help throughout the country and organized the charity. „There was not a single Dollar from the government, that was our biggest challenge. But we have a lot of friends here with contacts to foundations and charity organizations. They all helped us.“ A rebuilt house costs $ 4.000. Without the helping hands of plenty it would have been $ 8.000. Even European charities, such as the Spanish „Manos Unidas de Espana“ gave their support. An U.S.-organization donated the structure, another one was giving away roofs and a Swiss company provided the doors.
One of the 40 bamboo houses the community rebuilt after the earthquake of 2016
„Helping people is my passion!“
Luis wants his village to grow. „I want, that all are doing well. Doing my part and contributing what I can is my way of saying thanks to God for life. I have that in my heart!“
Luis Coronado sells furniture. Handmade furniture.
We are sitting in his small shop along the main road that connects Libertador Bolivar to the bigger towns like Montanita. „Artesanias Litoral“ is written on a wood panel above the entrance – “Coastal Crafts”. Trucks and busses drive past every minute interrupting our conversation with their loud engines. „Building furniture is my other passion. I love to touch the wood and craft it into something useful and give it a purpose“, Luis tells.
That gives him a pleasant change from his often bureaucratic community work
Many of the few, who actually own land here, want to sell it. But they can’t, the rules of the community forbid that. „They own the right of ownership, but not the selling title. So they can only rent out their land due to silly bureaucracy“, tries Luis to explain. I had a hard time understanding it as well. As most of South American countries, Ecuador also deals with a high level of corruption. „Rich people can buy and sell as much land as they want, without any special permissions. Because politicians follow the rich and money can buy you pretty much anything here.“
Without too many expectations for politics, tiny Comunidad Libertador improves slowly by itself. „Step by step we’re trying to attract more tourists from the coast and show them our high capacities of culture. In the past years we have gained more life quality and created more jobs. All our kids can go to school now. That was not possible five years ago“, Luis shares some insights.
One of these kids is his own, another one he has adopted. „Which advice would you give your 19-year-old son“, I ask Luis.
„If you want something, you got to go for it, fight for it. Don’t criticize others but try to support them.
So they will support you to reach your goal.“
Luis’ workshop in Libertador Bolivar
Almost randomly, as if it just popped up in his mind, Luis adds an essential idea about fear. „There are two types of fear. The good one and the bad one. The good one saves you from doing something stupid, makes you stop when a car comes before you cross the street. The bad one can cause much more harm“, he states, while referring to his job. „If I have fear of not selling my furniture and I let this fear paralyze me, I wouldn’t even start building it. That way you don’t get anywhere in life.“
„Te puedes salvar la vida o te puedes dañar la vida!“
You can save your life or you can harm your life!
It’s his last year of being the director of Libertador Comunidad.
Soon somebody else will take over his tasks. „But my dedication for the community will remain. We want to unite our forces for mutual objectives and create one goal that everybody can identify with: progress! I’m confident, that we can do that.“
What else is on the list for Luis? „I want to travel more, if possible. So far I only know Colombia and Perú”, tells the 52-year-old. “I think there’s a lot more to see out there.“