In 2016, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the coast of Ecuador, destroying vast swaths of Gabriela Luna Vélez’s hometown of Manta. Now, Vélez, who is graduating from the University of Toronto's urban design master's program in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, wants to play a part in rebuilding her city, particularly the waterfront neighbourhood of Tarqui.
"When it happened, I decided I had to do something about it," says Vélez.
For her thesis project, she proposed a plan to rebuild Tarqui, taking into account the history and culture of the neighbourhood and its vulnerability to natural disasters. She will be presenting her plan to Manta city officials.
"With the knowledge that I got from U of T, I think that I can really help my country," she says.