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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, May 10, 2010

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 TirĂșa, 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 TirĂșa, 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.

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