Our first blog post focused on the immediate post-earthquake work EPES was engaging in in and around Concepcion, Chile. Who would have thought that it would take over three and a half years (the earthquake occurred February 27, 2013) for the residents of the seaside villages – whose homes were destroyed by the tsunami – to finally move back to permanent homes??? While it has been a long journey, it has been one that has highlighted the power of community action. Finally, the families who have been living in emergency camps and temporary housing recently moved to their brand new homes:
In the photo you can see the houses and a group of people as they walked up the first day to see their new houses. In early December, EPES is having a celebration to commemorate their almost four years living in the emergency camps and their work together to defend the health and dignity of their families and community. EPES will continue working with the Health and Environment Committees as they face the new challenges of living in their new community with over 400 families from different emergency camps.
By Scott Duffus
I just returned from a week and a half in Chile where I spend time at the campamento in Penco. It was a privilege to see EPES’ community building work in action! If you are interested in more details about my time there take a look at my blog, (there are 9 posts starting on May 20th). I remember Karen Anderson telling me that the coldest she has ever been was in Santiago in winter. I believe her now. It is cold in Concepción in May and the middle of winter does not come till July.
The temporary housing called Mediaguas, which were provided by the government are small and come with no windows or doors; no provisions for heat, water, or insulation; they have roofs that leak, and the siding is what I would loosely describe as board and batten but the wood must have been green when they were assembled because the siding boards warp so that there are gaps which let in the wind and water. Here is a video of one of Sandra Mora, one of the community leaders in the Campamento and her observations about her new “home.”
EPES did a community assessment to determine what needed most by the community and who needed it. They determined that better roofing material was vital, as were insulation panels. EPES purchased corrugated galvanized panels and nails with rubber washers for roofs. I installed a couple of those new roofs myself, but there were plenty of others who were doing that work in the campamento. It really wasn’t about getting a guy from Minnesota to do some work in Chile– it is about EPES being able to provide the community with the right resources to solve their own problems. The insulation which EPES is providing is another example of a well thought out plan. When I got there there were plenty of piles of 1″ polystyrene foam around, and I was thinking “Hmmm– this might not be the best option unless it is covered” (polystyrene is flammable). The insulation that EPES is providing is pre-attached to flame retardant panels.
Here is another video of Sandra a few weeks later when some of the weatherization has been done on her home: