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).