March 12 2010

SOS Children's Villages supports 700 children who became victims of the earthquake in Chile

11/03/2010 - After the heavy earthquake that hit the town of Concepción and other areas in Chile on 27 February, SOS emergency relief teams have visited the most affected areas to establish how many children require urgent support in their current situation. 700 children will receive support from SOS Children's Villages.

Photo: SOS Archives
Distribution of sanitary products in Concepción - Photo: SOS Archives

On 27 February 2010, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.8 hit the town of Concepción and surrounding areas, killing 497 people and causing widespread destruction. Damages to SOS facilities were slight, and luckily nobody in SOS programmes was hurt. The village of Bulnes was hit hardest, with six family houses rendered uninhabitable, while the other three SOS Children's Villages in the area suffered damages to infrastructure, such as the supply of power and water, and communication lines.

Photo: SOS Archives
SOS teams assess the needs of affected families - Photo: SOS Archives

Relief teams of SOS co-workers have been supplying those most in need with goods of immediate necessity, such as food, water, blankets and tents; the latter two being of particular urgency due to the heavy rains this past weekend in Concepción. SOS Children's Villages and programmes themselves are also being provided with water, electricity and communication; the SOS Children's Village Concepción was given an electric generator to ensure continuous supply.

Photo: SOS Archives
Children need immediate support to overcome the traumatic experiences - Photo: SOS Archives

After several meetings with community leaders and visits to the most affected areas, the relief teams have established the level of help needed on a mid- to long term basis. Some 700 children will receive support from SOS Children's Villages in Concepción, which was hit hardest by the quake and where there is the highest number of children in urgent need of assistance. They will receive two meals per day and other services - such as day-care for children of parents who need to rebuild their homes - at community centres both run by SOS Children's Villages as well as programmes run by institutions such as churches.

Photo: SOS Archives
Thousands of people became homeless due to the earthquake - Photo: SOS Archives

A psychologist, a social worker and several members of the emergency team visited the SOS Children's Village Concepción on 7 March in order to evaluate the psychological condition of the staff. As they detected clear signs of traumatisation caused by the disaster, the team decided to implement a plan for psychosocial support. SOS Children's Villages' services will therefore also include therapeutic activities with expert psychologists, five of them volunteers, in an effort to address possible cases of post-traumatic stress disorder.