The earthquake that hit Chile in the early hours of Saturday, 27 February, aroused an authentic desire among many of the country’s inhabitants to help the victims of the natural disaster. An example of this solidarity came a week later, with the television event “Chile helps Chile.” It motivated the public and companies to donate $30 billion pesos, a historic amount that was twice the target initially set by the event’s organizers.
The funds collected during the 24-hour program, which included participation by the Colombian singer Juanes, the TV presenter Mario Kreutzberger, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, former President Michelle Bachelet and the new President Sebastián Piñera, among others, will be allocated to the construction of emergency housing.
The event contrasted with the looting that occurred in some of the areas affected by the earthquake, while the other cooperation activities that multiplied throughout the country were added to it.
For example, the Chilean Students’ Federation (Confech) worked with ministries, municipalities, and volunteers to organize the collection of food, clothing, provisions and cleaning materials, which were flown to the disaster area. Specifically, the aid was sent to Pichilemu, Paredones, Hualañé, Licantén, Chanco, Pelluhue, Parral, Constitución, Cobquecura, Tehuaco, Dichato, Tomé and Penco. Another 200 youths from La Serena gathered at the National Institute for Youth Storage Center to collect products that the victims were in urgent need of. The public response was successful and a great amount of supplies were received and sent to the affected area.
Private companies also reacted. To compensate for the structural damages to some of their buildings, real estate developers like Paz offered residents their money back or the chance to move into another building. Meanwhile, some of the telecommunications companies that lost services during the earthquake compensated their customers in the affected areas with additional minutes in phone calls and text messages.
Blankets and water donation
BancoEstado gave a 60-day respite in consumer loan payments and a six-month payment holiday for mortgages for customers in the Maule and Bio Bio Regions, while Corpbanca offered a similar solution. Some pharmacies sent free medicine to the areas affected the most and retail companies donated solidary baskets, foods, and blankets.
In addition to the wide availability of machinery to remove rubble, there was also the help provided by companies like AguaLate, which announced through its social networks that “as an exceptional measure all sales over the next two weeks will be converted into donations of water for the victims in the disaster area.” The goal is to send 20,000 bottles with the Chilean Red Cross.
The company Estrategia y Diseño launched the website www.EmergenciaChile.info, an aggregator that indexes all contents in the press, Twitter and Flickr and organizes it by region and city. In this way it provides precise information on all of the latest news after the catastrophe.
The Chilean Catholic Church, through Caritas Chile, opened a special bank account, number 0-082-18-00080-1, RUT 70.020.800-1 at Banco Santander Santiago. The money will be allocated to the areas that were hardest hit, while contributions from abroad can be made to the Red Cross’s Citibank account number 9941973331 Code ABA: 021000089 Address: 153 East 53rd Street, 4th floor. New York, NY 10022. In the United States you can donate US$ 10 to the Chilean Red Cross by sending a text message with the word “CHILE” to the number 90999.
Athletes join in
The magnitude of the disaster also affected national athletes, who despite their physical distance from Chile sent messages of support to the population in an attempt to raise the morale of Chileans. Humberto Suazo, who plays for Zaragoza in Spain, scored two goals over the weekend and after each one he showed his t-shirt saying Strength, Chile! This is despite the fact that the FIFA forbids messages of all kinds. For his part, Gary Medel, who plays for Boca Juniors in Argentina, dedicated the goal he scored against Vélez Sarfield to the earthquake’s victims. Minutes earlier his teammates had entered the playing field holding the Chilean flag in a sign of support for the country.
In England, the players of Queens Park Rangers and West Bromwich, where the Chilean Gonzalo Jara plays, wore black armbands in honor of the victims.
Meanwhile, the national tennis player Fernando Gonzalez recorded a video in which he explained the situation that affected the country and he also requested international assistance. In the area of Iloca, a coastal town that practically disappeared after the tsunami, you can also see the work done by former world motocross champion Carlo de Gavardo, who donated accessories that he used in rallies to help the earthquake victims.