We returned yesterday from our board meeting in Concepción. We had the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the emergency campamento in Penco, where we are working to help winterize 53 homes and run workshops on first aid, acute respiratory infections and other health related topics for families that have lost everything.
We plan to implement our partner organization Mercy Corps' "Comfort for Kids" program here too. The young leaders (all but one are women) received us in the "community center" — two of the very basic wooden emergency homes put together to make one room — with coffee and sopaipillas (typical Chilean fried bread that has cooked winter squash kneaded into the dough).
Some of the funds donated to Educacion Popular en Salud (EPES) for the emergency were used to equip the community center with tables and chairs so people have a place to meet, to talk, to share a cup of tea, and to organize. For more than an hour, we talked about the problems with the emergency homes (called mediaguas).
The heavy rains on Wednesday had already left everyone completely drenched and fearful during the night that their roofs were going to fly off. It was amazing to see how these people have been transformed into leaders...just a month ago when I was visiting, they expressed their lack of trust in each other. Families that lost everything had come from different places to live here. Now they are working together to solve the problems they face and providing leadership and support for the entire community.
The EPES team is so grateful for all the support we have received. Gracias! If you know others who are interested in supporting grassroots, participatory recovery efforts in Chile please feel free to share this video with them. A young friend, Camilo Lanfranco, did such a wonderful job making the video and his brother Jaime did the original music. It really captures why working with the community is so important in the recovery process.
And there is still much to do! We hope to have enough funds to start buying the materials to put tin roofs on all of the homes this week to help protect them from the wind and rain.