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World Vision continues relief response as Chile earthquake survivors face emotional and physical devastation

Strong aftershocks have followed the massive Feb. 27 quake, which created tsunamis, leveled whole towns, and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

March 2010



Tatiana Benavidas, World Vision's national director in Chile, consoles 8-year-old Constanza, who becomes emotional as she talks about everything she lost in the devastating earthquake.
Tatiana Benavida, World Vision’s national director in Chile, consoles 8-year-old Constanza, who becomes emotional as she talks about everything she lost in the devastating earthquake.
Photo ©2010 Heidi Isaza/World Vision

Constanza, 8, a sponsored child, becomes visibly upset as she talks about what happened when the 8.8-magnitude quake struck her family’s Chilean town on Feb. 27.

“We went to the top of the hill,” says Constanza. “It felt like the earth was going to open.”

When the shaking finally stopped, she returned with her older sister and parents to the home they had fled — or what was left of it. Not only had it been knocked off its foundation, with its walls and floors split apart, but it had physically moved. Once on flat land, the house now leans down a hill.

“When I came to see my house, I was very sad. I didn’t think it would be like that,” remembers Constanza, her voice trembling. “[I thought], this isn’t my house, and I cried a lot.”

Child-Friendly Spaces bring healing

Donate Now.
Your gift to World Vision’s Chile Earthquake Relief Fund will help us continue to deliver life-saving assistance and support to survivors of the disaster.

For children like Constanza, the emotional consequences of a disaster can be just as devastating as the physical ones. That’s why World Vision has made Child-Friendly Spaces a key component of our response to the Chilean quake, which has killed hundreds and affected millions.

In these safe places, children can participate in structured activities with others their age, as well as talk about their experiences in a supportive setting that fosters healing.

“The children don’t understand what’s happening. They cry. They suffer,” said Paz Romina Castillo Aviles, a fourth-grade teacher from Dichato, Chile, a town destroyed by the quake and subsequent tsunamis. “They’ve lost their homes, and their parents are facing a lot of stress because of what they are living through right now.”

Story continues after video...

Tents are ‘a blessing from God’

World Vision is establishing Child-Friendly Spaces in Dichato and other quake-ravaged towns in Chile, even as our teams also work to meet the physical needs of survivors like Ana Maria Flores and her two children.

“We didn’t have a tent. We were sleeping outside, under the stars. We have a mattress, but we were wet from the frost in the mornings,” said Ana Maria, as she pointed to a mattress leaning against the fence outside of the home they shared with her in-laws in Lota, Chile.

Ana Maria Flores and her two sons, Luis and Manuel, enjoy the inside of the new tent they received from World Vision, which is easily large enough to comfortably accommodate all three of them.
Ana Maria Flores and her two sons, Luis and Manuel, enjoy the inside of the new tent they received from World Vision, which is large enough to comfortably accommodate all three of them.
Photo ©2010 Heidi Isaza/World Vision
Like Constanza’s family, this mother and her two sons were unable to continue living in their house after the quake. Continuous aftershocks rendered it too dangerous.

Ana Maria worried that she didn’t have a safe place for her children to sleep. “As a mother, I was desperate. I was praying that nothing would happen to my children, because as a mother you worry about your children,” said Ana Maria.

During the week of March 7, World Vision delivered 300 tents to this community. Ana Maria and her children, Luis, 6, and Manuel, 4, were among the recipients.

“Thank God it is already here and set up. I am really excited,” said a smiling Ana Maria, as she admired her new 12-by-12-foot tent. “I thought it would be a small tent, but it looks like it is immense. Our whole family will fit.

“This is a blessing from God and a surprise for the kids,” she added.

A long-term recovery process

There are countless other stories in post-quake Chile like those of Constanza and Ana Maria — stories of destruction, emotional trauma, uncertainty, and desperate need. In the midst of such great needs, World Vision teams are working tirelessly to ensure that survivors receive tangible hope.

World Vision workers unload tents to be delivered to homeless survivors of the earthquake in Chile.
World Vision workers unload tents to be delivered to homeless survivors of the earthquake in Chile.
Photo ©2010 Heidi Isaza/World Vision
World Vision has worked in Chile for 30 years, and we had more than 100 staff members on the ground when the disaster struck. It hit less than two months after Haiti’s deadly quake, where World Vision continues a massive relief and recovery effort. Though currently focused on emergency relief assistance, World Vision will be in Chile for the long haul, helping survivors rebuild their lives from the rubble.

For mothers like Ana Maria, even tiny steps toward recovery are worth celebrating. “The most important thing is that we have somewhere to sleep now,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who helped us be able to have this.”


Learn more


>> Join the conversation. Check out World Vision’s social media outlets — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our blog — where you can engage in dialogue with our staff members and other supporters and receive the latest updates on our disaster responses.
>> Listen to a recent NPR story on World Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces in Chile.

Four ways you can help

>> Please keep in prayer the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Chile, particularly vulnerable children and families like Constanza and Ana Maria who have lost their homes and are struggling to acquire essentials. Pray for the efforts of our teams to bring relief to these hurting people.
>> Donate now to World Vision’s Chile Earthquake Relief Fund. Your gift will help our teams deliver critical, life-saving relief and support to survivors of this disaster.
>> Sponsor a child in Chile. Your love and support will provide essentials that will help a boy or girl be better equipped to survive and recover from future disasters like the recent quake.
>> Give monthly to help World Vision respond quickly and effectively with life-saving assistance for vulnerable children in the aftermath of disasters. Become an Emergency Response Partner.

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Learn more

Join the conversation. Check out World Vision’s social media outlets — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our blog — where you can engage in dialogue with our staff members and other supporters and receive the latest updates on our disaster responses.
- -
Listen to a recent NPR story on World Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces in Chile.

Four ways you can help

Please keep in prayer the survivors of the devastating earthquake in Chile, particularly vulnerable children and families like Constanza and Ana Maria who have lost their homes and are struggling to acquire essentials. Pray for the efforts of our teams to bring relief to these hurting people.
- -

Donate now to World Vision’s Chile Earthquake Relief Fund. Your gift will help our teams deliver critical, life-saving relief and support to survivors of this disaster.
- -
Sponsor a child in Chile. Your love and support will provide essentials that will help a boy or girl be better equipped to survive and recover from future disasters like the recent quake.
- -
Give monthly to help World Vision respond quickly and effectively with life-saving assistance for vulnerable children in the aftermath of disasters. Become an Emergency Response Partner.

 





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