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Chile Earthquake: Update 25 May 2010

EP Chile - tentsAlmost three months after an earthquake and tsunami struck Chile, a devastated landscape is what can still be seen when walking through the streets of Talca, Concepción, Curicó, Constitución, and many other cities and town.

Now that most of the communication channels have been restored, this is what was heard on the Bio-Bio radio last week: "The situation in Talca is serious for many families who are currently living in shacks while they wait for permanent houses to be built. This, according to the affected people, will not happen soon because the aid provided by the local authorities is being implemented very slowly."

Thousands of people are still living in tents enduring cold weather. It seems that the aid provided is not enough.  Only 23,000 temporary houses have been finished out of a total of 40,000 that were planned to be built, while winter is coming nearer and nearer. Many families have started repairing their houses in a makeshift way due to the lack and high cost of the workforce.

Amidst this tragedy, the emergency relief team of SOS Children's Villages keeps on helping. Presently, 670 children are cared for after school hours. At the same time, several evaluations are being carried out to integrate the neediest families into the Family Strengthening Programmes. A huge tent, donated by the government of Austria in April, was set up last week to facilitate the activities for children in the coastal area. These children were severely affected by the tsunami that struck the areas near Concepción.

The City Hall of Tomé was among the first beneficiaries of the big tent, given that it is in there that Labour Day was celebrated on 1 May. A folk show and children's movies were presented to spread some joy amidst so many problems. "This shelter is a great present not only for the children, but also for us adults who need emotional support and some entertainment to carry on after this catastrophe", remarked a woman from the community.

Two tents were set up in a school in Dichato. Ricardo Villablanca, a leader from the local community, expressed his gratitude for such an important support while his eyes filled with joy, because they now have a shelter against the rain and cold weather. "This shelter will help us carry out extra-curricular activities, gymnastics, and tutoring for all 300 children attending this school," he added. "This will particularly help us because winter is coming and we do not have a covered playground area. We will also be able to have coordinating meetings with the community, parents, and legal guardians". One of the tents was so big that several local people helped to set it. "I am giving a hand because this shelter will also be for my daughter, especially now that the rainy season is coming", said one of them.