Hello friends of AHA and EPES! As we’ve been updating our website, we seem to have lost our two most recent posts about the work EPES was doing with recovery from the September 2015 earthquake and tsunami that impacted Chile. You can view the letter from Dr. Lautaro Lopez, two reports, and photos below!
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL SPANISH LANGUAGE LETTER
September 17, 2015
Dear Friends of EPES,
I write to express immense gratitude for the scores of messages of solidarity that began reaching us immediately, minutes after last night´s earthquake, as well as the offers to help us respond collectively to the latest disaster to affect Chile. Yesterday was such a terrible day; when the earth began to move, at once everyone remembered the devastating earthquake of 2010 that impacted much of our country. Last night’s earthquake was the world’s worst so far this year, reaching 8.4 on the Richter scale. It is reported to be one of the 30 largest earthquakes ever to strike anywhere in the world. Chile also holds another unfortunate record with the earthquake/tsunami of 1960 in the southern region that surpassed 9 on the Richter scale.
In light of the extensive suffering, fear and stress these events have produce – even though we are the world’s most seismic country we never get used to earthquakes – I would like to share with you what we have been doing. Today we began a process to assess with greater precision the urgent needs of northern Chile, while also identifying and communicating with interfaith networks of the zone with whom we can coordinate and develop an initial work plan.
Initially, I contacted all institutional members of the ACT Alliance Forum, comprised of interfaith groups that responded to the earthquake/tsunami of 2010 in the central-southern region. Unfortunately, I only achieved a partial response, probably due to Chile’s Independence Day festivities and long holiday weekend now upon us.
Subsequently, I persisted in communicating with other agencies experienced in emergency work, specifically the Methodist Humanitarian Assistance Team of the Methodist Church of Chile (EMAH Chile). Next week, together with the other ACT member organizations we will develop a work proposal to enable us to support the most affected zone. We will explore the possibility of working with two organizations with which we have worked in past emergency situations, namely, EMAH Chile and CEDM (Diego de Medellin Ecumenical Center). With these two groups we hope to design a project employing the psychosocial community-based support strategy in the recovery and prevention phases in the most devastated area (Choapa Province).
In addition, Karen Anderson has spoken to IELCH Bishop Izani Brunch who expressed interest in joining EPES and ACT efforts. The EPES staff has proposed contributing initial funds for conducting an on-site assessment. A community health promoter trained by EPES with experience from our work in Valparaiso after the fire as well as post disaster work will coordinate the assessment. A key player will be former EPES health promoter now living in Tongoy, one of the most affected coast communities. The assessment will be conducted with women who had modest work stands and lost everything in yesterday’s tsunami. On the basis of their assessment, EPES will develop a proposal to present to ELCA and other possible funding sources.
Lastly, on behalf of the EPES staff, we wish to express our most heartfelt thanks to all our friends as well as the solidarity institutions that give of their time, concern and have decided to provide support in this situation. Your efforts will help overcome the material and psychosocial damage affecting our communities, especially the most vulnerable members of society.
Dr. Lautaro Lopez
EPES Concepcion and ACT Chile