Chile: one month after the earthquake the Order of Malta’s twelve-month plans
One month after Chile’s devastating earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, Malteser International with the Order of Malta’s Chilean Association and the Ambulance Corps of the ‘Auxílio Maltés’ association is organizing further interventions to continue humanitarian aid for at least another year.
On 27 February an earthquake of magnitude 8.8 on the Richter scale with epicentre off the Chilean coast claimed some 500 lives and left half a million homeless. In Chépica, a township of 140,000 inhabitants 180 km south of Concepción, the Order of Malta’s International Relief Corps is helping small-scale enterprises to reconstruct buildings and workshops. ‘Malteser International also considers psychosocial care for children essential since over 70% of them were afraid to return to school after the quake,’ Kathrin Meier, leader of Malteser International’s Chile operations, explains. Maite, an ‘Auxilio Maltés’ psychologist, will provide psychological treatment over the next two months. Furthermore, a counselling service for people with chronic respiratory diseases will be set up and equipped.
In Tubul, 60 km south of Concepcion, Malteser International is supporting fishermen who have lost all their equipment, and thus their whole livelihood, in the tsunami. ‘The sea is a part of our essence and we are a part of the sea. Fishing is not just a job but something deeply rooted in our being,’ says Daniel, a fisherman from one of the most severely damaged villages in Chile. Almost all the 3000 inhabitants are now living in tents.
Almost immediately after the quake, the Order of Malta’s units started to distribute clothes, blankets, food and water treatment tablets to some 1000 victims of the quake and the tsunami.
Also of significance is the Order of Malta’s Embassy’s work in coordinating the international organizations and diplomatic missions present in Chile to create an aid network.