The reconstruction of the Colchagua Valley is going to take months. In the meantime, there are people who are desperately in need of assistance. This area of the country has still not been declared a state of catastrophe, which is, to be honest, quite ridiculous.
Santa Cruz itself was badly hit, as you've seen from my previous blog postings. However, villages in the area have been even more affected. Peralillo and Poblacion have been almost completely destroyed. These pretty, Colonial-style villages have seen almost every single adobe building structurally damaged by the earthquake- most of the homes in the villages.
Bucalemu, my favourite beach town to walk the dogs, was almost completely wiped out by the earthquake and the resulting tsunami.
Official help has been a little slow to come through in this part of the country- much has been diverted further south (where the people need it as much as we do here, of course).
But Winter is coming and many people have nowhere to live: They need roofs over their heads.
So a group of expats and locals have formed a private group which is aiming to help at least 100 families in the village of Poblacion. Poblacion was chosen as it is a very small place that has been badly affected and because it is also home to several well-connected Chileans and foreigners who are extremely capable and good at just getting things done.
We hope that we will raise enough money to build over 100 medias-aguas. These are, to be quite honest, little more than a glorified shed...but roofs over heads are what is urgently required. Later on, government organisations and official charities can improve people's living situations.
Each media-agua costs 300,000 pesos, +/- us$580.
If we raise enough money to deal with the situation in Poblacion, we will move on to the next village. On Wednesday, I plan to visit Bucalemu to see how we can help there.
So far, amongst friends and family, I've managed to raise over $1 million pesos and I'm putting in the same amount from my company. I would expect that amount to increase over the next week. Other members of the group have raised even more. The response from everyone I know has been awesome.
If you'd like to help the reconstruction of the affected parts of Chile, I'd recommend donating to Un Techo Para Chile. This is an official charity that helps build homes for the worst off in Chilean society. I don't expect anyone I don't know to donate to our private cause but please do donate something to someone.
And talking about donating, the special telethon put on to raise money for those affected by the earthquake- Chile Ayuda A Chile- had the goal of raising 15 billion pesos (about us$30 million). In actual fact, the campaign raised over double that amount...a quite incredible response from the Chilean people and Chilean companies.
This disaster has been really hard for so many people and it's just amazing to see everyone's efforts to make things better.
Below are photos from Poblacion: