Coyanco is a tiny town in Quillón in the province of Ñuble, Biobio region, in central Chile. On February 2010 early dawn, an 8.8 earthquake shook the region for 3 long minutes.
This is the eleventh strongest earthquake in modern day history and the effects of the earthquake have been heartbreaking.
Lingering impact of earthquake
The Biobio region has always been prone to earthquakes but the 2010 was so strong it moved the earth’s axis by an estimated 8 cm. and caused a tsunami that destroyed homes, livelihoods, and lives. In Coyanco, which has a population of 15,000, the main industries are agriculture, farming, and tourism. After the earthquake, many left the town because the once idyllic setting was damaged so much; it shut down many of the businesses.
The emotional trauma from loss of house and loved ones was grave. Although the town and the province are slowly rebuilding its infrastructure, the effects of the earthquake are still obvious in the eyes of the children and the people who lost their sole source of income. In addition, the region continues to experience periodic earthquakes every year which does not help calm the fears of residents and young children.
"A national catastrophe"
Right after the earthquake, SOS Children’s Village in Coyanco shifted to emergency relief with 17% of the region’s population lost. There was an urgent need to supply medical care and treatment, food, temporary shelter, relief and recovery operations, and simple toiletries. This effort soon led to providing emotional support and counselling. Today, SOS Children's Villages is still working to help nearly 300 families get back on their feet with self-sustaining community efforts.
Many of the tourist spots and shops were destroyed. There were no more jobs and residents and parents had to leave town and their children to find work. For farmers, the land was not immediately arable because of fires and devastation. It was just as the government declared it to be: “a national catastrophe.”
Our Work in Coyanco
After the recovery and immediate relief efforts, SOS Children's Villages began supporting families, so that parents would not have to leave Coyanco to earn a living. Parents were giving opportunities to rebuild their livelihood or learn new skills. The main goal was to keep the family intact, secure, and stable so the children would have a normal life.
The residents of Coyanco were familiar with SOS Children's Villages because it has been in the town since 1975. One of the pillars of SOS Children Coyanco is our community outreach work which served its purpose well since 2010. It initially focused on helping the nearby fishing town called Tumbes because their lives were tremendously affected by the earthquake. They needed to increase their income for repairs and to boost their trampled self-esteem.
Our Children's Village provides a new home for children who have been orphaned. They live in an SOS family, and are cared for by an SOS Mother. The SOS youth programme trains teenagers and parents with relevant vocational skills for their future. The youth programme also provides 60 people from other nearby SOS Children’s Villages with temporary accommodations and professional counselling.
Children living in SOS families are given hope for the future, when surrounded with nurturing care and love. Will you support them as they grow up, and sponsor a child today?