Thursday, May 20, 2010

Just The Facts! Chile Relief Specifics

This week we sent out a press release with general information about our ongoing Chile relief work. Details of this work are too numerous to include in a short press release, so here are the beautiful details:

Our Santiago based Chilean coordinator, Patricio Mekis, is administering Save The Waves' Chile efforts from Santiago. This capital city is the productive heart of the country and is the place to "get things done." From Santiago he is coordinating all activities with our new Chilean "tsunami ambassadors" who are based in Pichilemu, Constitución, Curanipe, Buchupureo and Cobquecura. They are also working closely with a strategic planning expert in Santiago who has experience with small NGOs. Mr. Mekis also administers a tight monthly budget for purchasing materials and other help in Santiago destined for each region.

In Pichilemu, Philip and Ramon are administering a local budget to purchase fishing nets, dive masks, and other materials for fishermen in the Pichilemu area. Philip is also working out the details with local schools for several thousand dollars in local grants for students who are involved in leading other local relief efforts. They are also distributing Clif Bars (4 pallets were generously donated and shipped to Chile by Clif Bar), wetsuits and other supplies for the harder-hit regions south of Pichilemu and near Constitución.

In Constitucion, Pocha is organizing a zodiac boat to ferry the remaining 20+/- water filters, miscellaneous supplies, construction materials and Clif Bars to a remote area upriver from Constitución that was completely cut off by the earthquake (the area previously depended on a dilapidated train for all outside contact but the quake destroyed the rails into this remote area). Pocha is also organizing a massive beach cleanup of Constitucion coastline this month, and he will be coming online with other great local projects for Constitución as his time permits. The destruction, and the scope of work left to do, is quite serious in this area and there is not a lot of outside help now that nearly 3 months have passed and the urgency of the situation has simmered down in the media.

In Curanipe, Grillo is collaborating closely with our partner Coastkeeper program and together they are organizing the purchase and distribution of construction materials and fishing supplies for Curanipe and Pelluhue tsunami zones. Grillo is also organizing a small work and cleanup crew for these reconstruction projects in an area that was completely destroyed by a direct tsunami hit. Once this is accomplished, Grillo will also be administering a small scholarship program for student tsunami victims there and will be starting a gardening project.

Also in Curanipe, a group of 3 doctors from Santiago traveled to the region on behalf of Save The Waves. The docs tended to dozens of people at the clinic in Curanipe and at the end of their weekend they made a visit to a local woman who had been stuck in bed since the earthquake, terrified, deeply depressed and unwilling to move. To make a long story short, the doctors got her up and out of the house, they had her walking around the neighborhood and stoked on life! Her family and neighbors saw it as nothing less than a miracle. We'll be organizing monthly visits like this one, for all regions, especially Constitución where the need is deep.

In Buchupureo, a local gardener - Carlos "Pollo" - has been hired and is in the process of building a greenhouse, planting seeds, and getting ready for a winter cultivation project. The goal is to have vegetables ready for the local schools' lunches by September and through December. A cash scholarship will also be administered for the two tiny schools in Buchupureo and students will be involved in the gardening project. Funds for Buchupureo have also been destined to purchase materials and training for the local Buchupureo firefighters whose efforts in the days after the quake were heroic.

In Cobquecura, Cesar is organizing construction materials and a work crew to rebuild the center of a local neighborhood group. Cesar is also starting a scholarship program there and is getting materials together for a community garden located where his house once stood in Cobquecura. We are also supporting an entrepreneurial group of women who are growing flowers for sale in this region, and we are purchasing materials for artisan fishermen who are members of a locally syndicated group of "shore pickers" in the remote coastal area just south of Cobquecura.

A strategy that we've been working on implementing is to listen to the locals and ask them what they NEED before we tell them to implement gardens, construction, fishing supplies, beach cleanups, etc. Some regions don't need a beach cleanup or a garden or a fishing net but they do need something else that no agency or org is supplying. So we're really trying to listen to the locals before we tell them what we have to give them. This is working out well as it adds an element of self-empowerment that is much needed in the tsunami zone!

More mini-projects will be coming online soon in all of these regions, please stay tuned for monthly updates.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support, encouragement and confidence in our work:

Fuerza Chile!

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