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Helping Chile Rebuild

Saadia Iqbal's picture

Photo courtesy El MercurioOn Februarly 27, Chile was struck by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake, one of the most powerful ever registered in the world history. The earthquake was followed by a tsunami that destroyed the cities near the coastline and wiped out fishing villages. The disaster killed more than 700 people and more than 2 million have been affected, nearly 12 percent of the country's total population.

Preliminary government estimates suggest that more than 500,000 buildings have been destroyed while thousands of roads, bridges, ports, hospitals and telecommunication infrastructures have been seriously damaged. According to estimates, the total damage caused by this catastrophe could cost almost 18% of the country’s GDP. Forty percent of the wine and agricultural industry are destroyed, and the cost of repairing the second most important port in Chile will be close to $150 million.
Despite all of this, the country was lucky in part to strong building codes and regulations in place, and the preparedness and immediate response of government and local institutions. But more help is needed.

What Can You Do?

When the earthquake in Haiti happened, many Youthink! readers asked about ways to go and volunteer, in addition to donating money. Both are very important ways to help. Here are some suggestions about how you can help the country recover from this disaster.

Volunteers are needed on the ground to help rebuild Chile. If you are interested in going to Chile to build housing and infrastructure, please contact Antonella Sassi, from Un Techo para Chile, which is the largest nonprofit organization building basic housing in Chile. Although they can’t cover your travelling expenses, they will make sure you have a place to stay while you volunteer. Donations are also urgently needed.

Another place to donate to is Hogar de Cristo--an organization that runs the homeless shelters and soup kitchens in Chile. In the days since the earthquake, they have opened over 50 shelters and kitchens in the most devastated areas.

As with the Haiti tragedy, there are two numbers available to donate with your cell phones: Send an SMS with "CHILE" to 20222 or 25383. Every time you do this you will donate $10 to Habitat for Humanity or World Vision.