In March 2010, Kathrin Meier went to Chilfe for two weeks to coordinate the relief efforts after the earthquake of 27 February on behalf of Malteser International. In this blog, she gives an account of her experiences and the consequences of the earthquake.
On Holy Thursday, members of Auxilio Maltés handed over a goblet and further mass utensils to Padre Luis, priest of Chépica, so that he could celebrate Easter together with his parish. The church in Chépica had been totally destroyed by the earthquake – nothing remained intact.
The situation in Chile is getting more and more serious as the winter season is approaching and a lot of rain is predicted.
Santiago de Chile, March 21
Yesterday we spent the whole day to get to Tubul, a fisher-village in the south of Chile, that has been heavily damaged by the tsunami. The only way there was an adventure because bridges on the road were destroyed and we had to take a detour through the forest. Shortly before we arrived in Tubul we had a flat tire.
The first impression of Tubul was terrible. The tsunami has damaged almost every house. The only source of income of the inhabitants is fishing, but the floods have destroyed nearly all the boats, nets and diving equipment.
The priority of our work here on site is therefore the replacement of fishing equipment. "If we have work, we also will be able to rebuild our village," Daniel, a fisherman from the village, told me.
On the way back we had a flat tire again, so once again I got to bed late…at 4 clock in the morning.
Santiago de Chile, March 18, 6:24 p.m. (local time)
Soon autumn will move in and therewith the rain. Thousands of people are sleeping outside – either because their house collapsed or because they fear another quake.
When the rain begins and the days are getting colder, the people will have to face a nearly unbearable situation.
I very much hope that we will get a mild winter season and that the reconstruction will make good progress.
Santiago de Chile, March 15, 7:20 p.m. (local time)
Today we have been to Chépica again to meet the mayor of the village.
“Thank you so much that you are supporting us!! This village is in urgent need of help. The very fact of your presence and solidarity gives us strength. Together we will rebuild our beloved Chépica,” the mayor told us with tears in her eyes.
The Chilean relief service “Auxilio Maltés” plans to support the owners of micro enterprises in the village who have lost their source of income.
A woman told us despaired how she has saved money half her to open her little bakery. Now she has lost her income and life-long dream at one stroke.
Santiago de Chile, March 14, 9:35 p.m. (local time)
We are sitting in the dark at the moment – according to the radio a power outage hit the whole country. Online mobile phones work.
Some people are rushing on the street because the earthquake 2 weeks before was also preceded by a power failure. But thank god there has been no strong aftershock this time.
I just hear my heighbour complaining: "Another quake and I’m going to leave this country.”
Meanwhile, we make ourselves comfortable with candlelight and wait. Probably until tomorrow ...
Santiago de Chile, March 11, 9:57 p.m. (local time)
Today we have been in the village Chèpica. Its centre and outskirts have been largely destroyed. On the way there, we were surprised by a new earthquake, but thank God nothing happened to us.
The people in Chépica are extremely grateful for the support, ´cause so far nobody has distributed food in the huts outside the village. And again I witnessed the incredible solidarity among the Chilean people in these difficult times: We wanted to hand over a tent to a woman whose house collapsed completely, but she said: “You better give it my neighbour she has two children more than I do." And despite our assurances that we had enough tents for everyone, she refused the offer, pointing out that there would be certainly people who are even more affected.
On the way back to Santiago we made but slow progress because the quake today have destroyed more bridges.
I’m terribly tired …
Santiago de Chile, March 10, 10.11 a.m. (local time)
The solidarity of the people here in Chile touches me every day again.
In the media in Germany you here almost exclusively of looting and theft, which in fact reflect only a fraction of reality. From the large number of people who, despite hunger and affliction, share the little they have left with those who have even less, no one reports anything.
Or from of the power of those who have lost everything and yet not lose their optimism and hope. "Together and with God's help we will rebuild our beloved Chile!" is heard throughout the country.
Santiago de Chile, March 9, 11.18 p.m. (local time)
Again and again I am surprised of the vitality and the fighting spirit of this people. Even after such a heavy stroke of fate they do no let it get them down. “Power, Chile!" is written on many cars, walls and posters. Young people hitchhike to the south in their free time in order to help their affected countrymen.
Hundreds of people leave the capital with their cars filled with food to bring it to the earthquake and tsunami affected villages. The wave of solidarity is incredible and encourages those who have lost everything: family, home, income…
I am lying in bed now, not able to sleep. I can’t stop thinking of this girl that has lost her whole family. In her village with 120 inhabitants only 10 survived …
Santiago de Chile, March 8, 10.13 p.m. (local time)
After 28 hours of travel I finally arrived in Chile - with three stopovers and one cancelled flight. The entry is still difficult. Large parts of the airport are still closed. Passport control and customs clearance take place in tents.
In the centre of Santiago, however, normal life has returned - despite of the more than 150 aftershocks since the disaster. In many windows you can see the Chilean flag - as a symbol of national solidarity. And indeed - the solidarity among the people is enormous ... more details to this in the coming days, when the internet will work better hopefully (my internet today already collapsed 20 times).
I'm glad to be back here in Chile and help the country and its people that have given so much to me ...
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