Send a donation to aid Chilean earthquake victims

To make a donation to help earthquake victims, send your check, made payable to “Maryland Province Jesuits Fund” to Maryland Province Jesuits Fund,
P.O. Box 64818,
Baltimore, MD 21264

To make a donation online, go to
and click on the Chile Relief Fund link.

Meanwhile, we'll keep posting updates on what's happening to help the victims of this devastating earthquake.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Taking the next step

This report appeared in the worldwide Jesuits' latest newsletter -- we thought you'd like to read it, too.

CHILE: Jesuit Banks of Hope

The earthquake that struck Chile at the end of February caused massive destruction in one of the poorest areas of the country.

Twenty poverty relief centres run by the Jesuit organization Hogar de Cristo, Chile's largest non-profit organization founded in 1944 by Jesuit Father Alberto Hurtado, were completely destroyed.

"Since we were working there already, we immediately started a campaign to collect food, clothing, blankets," said the director, Father Agustín Moreira. With almost 4,000 employees, 8,000 volunteers, and 60,000 people who receive assistance everyday, Hogar de Cristo was able to make use of its extensive contacts in the distribution of aid.

With the Chilean government now taking care of the situation, Hogar de Cristo has launched the second phase of its rebuilding and outreach campaign, which will cost an estimated US$ 20 million.

"People receive micro-credit and they organize into groups of approximately eight to ten people. If they repay the money they are loaned, they will receive another loan, and so on. In this way, they gradually overcome poverty. We are the only organization of its size in Chile that makes loans to poor people."

For further information go to:
For the English translation go to

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You have brought hope back to this community

We have received from Chile reports of continuing progress and reports of continued need -- as well as words of hope and gratitude....

Dear Friends,
We send our regards and love from this south central part of Chile. Winter is right around the corner and our mornings are getting very cold.  The heavy rains offer the renewed promise for future life and growth.   
During this time of reconstruction we have received help and generous support from many of you who made the decision to help out your sisters and brothers affected by the tsunami.  You have brought hope back to this community. 

Once again we want to thank everybody for her/his generosity.

In Tirua and in the Mocha Island according to our plans we are within reach of our goal which was to cover the small houses with zinc on the outside and SBA panels inside.  Families with more than three members living in these small houses have received help so they could add more rooms.  Furthermore, every single family affected by the tsunami received pots, kettles, silverware, and small firewood ovens. Carpenters and artisan who make furniture have also received tools and raw material to get back to work. 

Families have shelter; utilities still needed in Tirua

In Tirua most of the affected families are already living in these small houses (mediaguas). Yet we continue to be very concerned about the delay of utilities. These families still do not have electricity, water, or sewage.  We are asking for donations in order to develop and provide these services to this community affected by the tsunami.  We are also coordinating with the National Emergency Committee to allocate individual sanitary units to those living in these emergency houses.

Waiting for land so building can begin

In Quidico we are ready to build small houses but we are waiting for the land that was to be allocated by the local government. Hopefully, we will start construction of these houses soon. Another major concern in this town are the many small production projects were damaged by the catastrophe and we are asking for donations in order to provide technical support and resources to re-implement these affected projects.
In Tirua and Quidico we are also supporting a group of families who lost all their possessions and houses in Tubul. These families, who originally came from this region, settled in Tubul because of employment opportunities. After the earthquake they returned home to Tirua and Quidico with nothing.  We have supported these families, built their emergencies houses and given them basic cooking utensils.

A campaign for aid for 300 families from Tubul

We also decided to visit to the coastal towns of Llico and Tubul in Arauco, located 150 kilometers to the north. It was a distressing situation. While families living in Tirua and Mocha Island have found refuge in emergency houses, in Llico and Tubul people remain living in crowded and inhuman conditions, in tents and huts.  In Llico which is a smaller community than Tirua, Un Techo para Chile (A Roof for Chile) has built 92 emergency houses. On the other hand, in Tubul the tsunami caused enormous damage and we should have built at least 300 emergency houses; however, less than 100 houses have been built.     
In order to face and address this distressing situation, we have decided once again to appeal to your generosity and launch a campaign for donations for improving and building small houses (mediaguas) and to provide the affected people with mattress, beds, cooking utensils, ovens, and wood stoves. We will begin helping the 92 families in Llico. Afterward, we will seek new ways to support and help the 300 families from Tubul.

We strongly believe that we cannot remain doing nothing while some of our brothers and sisters are living in tents and hovels. I know that everybody has already worked very hard and most of you have been very generous giving your time and making donations. However, there are families who still need assistance and support and for that reason we must all redouble our efforts in order to help them to renew their lives and hope.
Once again we want to thank for all your support and trust in our work and services to the most affected people of this natural disaster. We carry on working in coordination with the Municipality and Servicio Pais. We also want to thank the willingness of these organizations to work with us as team.

Thanks to Carmen Jara Saavedra for the photo in this post.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Reason to smile

Un Techo Para Chile's hard work is putting roofs over the heads of children and families throughout the most devastated parts of Chile. As the roofs go up — thanks to thousands of volunteer hours, many given by young men and women attending university — smiles appear on the faces of both those who have been helped and those who helped. Take a look

Monday, May 10, 2010

College students come to the rescue (in pictures)

Students from Alberto Hurtado University help build "mediaguas," emergency housing in Chile.Their efforts are part of the work of Un Techo para Chile, the group so instrumental in getting roofs over the heads of thousands left homeless after the earthquake. Some 350 students built 153 houses.

Un Techo para Chile,as of May 2nd, has built 13,368 of these small houses and is committed to building 20,000 before the arrival of the winter season.

Housing and tools in tsunami-damaged Tirua

Winter is beginning in the Chilean coastal town of Tirua, home of the Mapuche people who suffered twice when the south central coast was hit by both a tsunami and an earthquake in February.

Fr. Pablo Castro Fones, SJ, who heads the Jesuit mission there, reported that Tirua as well as other nearby fishing villages of the Arauco Province have been terribly affected.

The first step was providing small emergency housing.

In all, some 466 families were assisted first with a roof over their heads and many families were also given tools for everyday living. Inventive builders figured out how to enlarge the small one-room houses so there would be room for more than three people.

The small wooden houses were fitted with insulating panels and metal roofs to protect the inhabitants from rain. Because people lost everything, they were also given stoves, cooking utensils and bedding. Sanitary equipment, including electricity, water and baths, was slow in coming but Fr. Castro reported that equipment was found to get these necessary services operational.

“We have been able to accomplish all this in Tirúa, Quidico and Isla Mocha,” noted Fr. Castro. “But in Llico and Tubul we have only enough resources for emergency houses but none for improving them at all. The approximate cost for improving emergency houses at Llico and Tubul is 50 million pesos (US$ 100,000).”

Families lost not only their homes, they lost the tools of their livelihoods.

These are people who work as carpenters, cooks, and most of all, small fishermen. Among the small fishermen there are boat owners, divers and shore fishermen. Since the government is offering assistance to boat owners and divers, Fr. Castro said the Jesuit mission is coming to the aid of other small business owners. They’ve supplied tools to two furniture makers, seven carpenters, a cook and four restaurant owners.

In addition, he said, they were beginning to speak with fishermen to see how they can help them work more efficiently. “We are also studying the best way to help small shore fishermen to recover their tools. Only in Tirúa, shore fishermen may need around US$ 8,000,” he added.

So much has been done but Fr. Castro notes they aren’t finished yet.

“We sincerely believe we cannot remain passive while there are brothers and sisters of ours living in huts and tents."

"All of us have already worked hard. The majority have been generous in their donations. But there are families who still require help. We must all renew our efforts so they can renew their lives,” he said.

All together now

Young people in Chile are turning the wreckage from Chile's earthquake into small new communities, filled with hope.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A journey from fall colors to fallen roofs

Carlos Rodriguez, SJ. a former Provincial of Peru, went to Cuaquenes to join the volunteers of Hogar de Christo. He has sent a report on his initial impressions as he met people visiting a soup kitchen.

My journey to southern Chile got me involved in this experience. I was looking at the beauty of the landscapes, mountains, forests, and marshes. It was so wonderful: vineyards and the fall season coming out with such beautiful colors.

From the sights of mountains, forests and vineyards to the devastation of destroyed bridges and collapsed houses.

On the other hand, I saw the results of the earthquake: roadblocks, destroyed bridges, collapsed houses, fallen roofs. When we got to Talca the view was also very desolated and gloomy! I saw debris all over the place. In the city of Cauquenes where we arrived at 2:00 pm we saw the same distressing view; debris on the streets and buildings collapsed.

We arrived at the Hogar de Cristo where Claudia and Sergio, a volunteer, gave us a friendly welcome. We were three Jesuits; Oscar from Bolivia, Eliot from Colombia, and I. The Hogar de Cristo staff invited us to get to know their apostolic work. We went to the airfield, the Boldo, where there were many volunteers, donated supplies and some volunteers coming and going distributing them.

The next two days we spent in a soup kitchen that the Hogar de Cristo has opened in Fernandez, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cauquenes. This soup kitchen was set up to help elderly men and women. We went to these people’s homes and saw that kinds of things that Anabel the social worker said could only be uncovered by this kind of event: the real situation of the poor and the elderly.

Some of these cases were shocking and harrowing.

What has touched me deeply; besides the horror of the destruction and the helplessness of these people, was the fear and insecurity because of the continual aftershocks. Everybody in Cauquenes asked us to build small homes (mediaguas).