Emergency in concepcion
A brief video on EPES's response to the earthquake in Chile, and its strategy towards rebuilding with the communities. Volunteers, staff, health promoters and neighbors voice out their concern, pointing out that communities must have voice and action in the reconstruction process, so they wont be pushed aside by top-down decision-making.
The video was directed and edited by Camilo Lanfranco, with additional camera by Abraham Parra, music by Jaime Lanfranco, and footage from the EPES' archive.  

Over the past nine months, EPES staff — part of which is pictured here — has trained 100 teachers and community leaders in seven quake-stricken cities to deliver 55 workshops of approximately 10 sessions each, reaching nearly 1,500 youths between the ages of 6 and 14. Photo: courtesy of EPES

It’s the beginning of summer here in southern Chile. The weather is spectacular and everyone has something to be happy about. Schoolchildren look forward to the end of classes and the start of their long vacation. Workers look forward to extra days off at the end of the month, especially when accompanied by the Christmas bonus that almost all employers provide. Families look forward to visits from relatives and friends, good cheer and hopefully a special meal, no matter how humble.

At the Educacion Popular en Salud (EPES, Mercy Corps' local partner in Chile) Center in Concepción, we are also in a celebratory mood, albeit “con dulce y grasa” (“sugar and lard,” the Chilean equivalent of bittersweet).

On the one hand, we’re bidding farewell to participants in the emotional recovery programs we’ve been coordinating since the devastating February 27 earthquake and tsunami.

Its been a big job: over the past nine months, we’ve trained 100 teachers and community leaders in seven quake-stricken cities to deliver 55 workshops of approximately 10 sessions each, reaching nearly 1,500 youths between the ages of 6 and 14. The workshops adapted Mercy Corps' Comfort for Kids and Hacia Adelante (Moving Forward) methodologies of personal narratives, games and team sports to help children recover.

Our goal has been to provide support to the youngest survivors of the natural disaster, help them restore confidence in themselves and their surroundings, and prepare them for the uncertainties of the future. We are delighted that this cycle of recovery is coming to a close because our greatest measure of success is not to be needed anymore.

But even as these emergency programs wind down, the vulnerabilities that underlie them still exist and, in many cases, have deepened.

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August 6 was a joyous day in Campamento Bosquemar, as EPES Concepción inaugurated the Community Center of the emergency settlement where we’ve been winterizing homes, running trainings and accompanying families in the struggle to rebuild their homes and  lives.

EPES installed electricity and insulation, painted the building and furnished the community room, converting it from an inhospitable and drafty wooden box into a center where people gather for meetings, health training, bread making and other community activities.

To celebrate, the EPES staff baked bread in new clay ovens built behind the center and presented a loaf to each of the 50 families living in Bosquemar.

A surprise visit by Senator Eduardo Frei – former President of Chile – added to the sense of ceremony.

The plaque placed on door of the Community Center reads:

“ A space for working together to help turn dreams into reality for the people of Playa Negra, Gente del Mar and Penco Centro affected by the earthquake and tsunami of February 27, 2010.”

EPES is grateful to Action of Churches Together (ACT) and Action for Health in the Americas (AHA) for their support of this work.


Baking bread


Bosquemar Community Center


The plaque


EPES’ Lautauro Lopez (far left) and Vicky Norambuena (center) show Sen. Eduardo Frei (in red tie) bread baked for the community.


The Bosquemar resettlement camp is home to 50 families who once lived along the shore and depended on the sea. Independent people, low on schooling and income, they are now living in one-room government-issued wooden shelters that lack running water, sharing communal latrines and cold-water showers.

But thanks to timely intervention, these 150 people can now make it through the winter dry and warm under repaired roofs, insulated walls, windows with glass, gas heaters, burners and real beds.


Metal siding goes up

Lumber for house repairs


Zuñilda Barrales shows repairs underway – but not before the first heavy rains drenched the corner where, with five generations living under one leaky roof, her 104-year-old bedridden grandmother resides.  EPES replaced the ruined bedding with an air mattress.

No more leaky roof
Residents provide the labor when they can; a house-by-house survey by EPES identified who needs priority assistance.

AHA Board member Rev. Scott Duffus and his mother Gloria help Carolina and her mother.

EPES bought gas cylinders to replace dangerous open coal braziers for heating and cooking. With safe cooking equipment, families are eating better, too.

No running water but at least there’s heat


Focus on Women

Many of the women here are the sole support of their families, and the challenge of rebuilding a home falls upon their shoulders.  EPES has also conducted emotional support workshops for women, a first for women who had never attended anything like this before.

But post-traumatic stress and adjusting to this community of strangers is just part of the challenge:  for women, especially, loss of livelihoods along the coast has deprived them of income and the independence that having a job out of the house provided.


The EPES course in first aid and health, now underway, is a first step. The 10-week course will help women like Sandra Mora (see video below) , who takes care of the elderly, build professional skills at the same time it builds leadership and community advocacy.

Emotional recovery workshops





“This catastrophe overturned many assumptions and brought us, as EPES, back to our roots,” says Dr. Lautauro López, director of EPES Concepción.

“We carry earthquakes in our blood, so it wasn’t the buckling earth that most surprised us: it was the absence of an organized response. Most support came from people on the block, local organizations.

“EPES’ strategy was to find the communities we could best help to empower and mobilize. Penco’s Bosquemar camp fit the bill. We were no strangers there: we knew the fishermen and seaweed collectors, their trade unions and food stalls.


Lautauro López and Marco Garrido (Ecumenical Emergency Committee, CIECH) meet with Bosquemar community leaders.

We identified leaders, mediated among them, and helped them diagnose their situation house-by-house. Given the shoddy housing they received, it was clear that winterizing was a priority. We also equipped the community hall, and are now conducting a first aid course there for women.

“This feels like a return to our EPES origins: working in a shantytown – in this case, a new one, created not by a land takeover but by a natural disaster – empowering women around health and housing, fostering collective action."

Bosquemar: Repairs in Progress
Sandra Mora shows us the repairs made to her emergency housing in Campamento Villa Bosque Mar, Penco. (See the poor quality construction in video 1.) The support from EPES, the city, her brothers and better community organization, has help Sandra emerge from depression. She now awaits enthusiastically the start of First Aid course that EPES will give, and the remainig repairs on her house. // May 2010

Rebuilding Penco: EPES visits Campamento Villa Bosquemar /April 19, 2010.


April 19, 2010 — Sandra Mora, who lost the home she shared with  her partner because of the tsunami, shows us the gaping holes and glassless windows of the one-room wooden media agua (box) that the government has provided her with.

EPES will help the families of this emergency camp to protect their houses with windows, floors and external sheeting before the winter cold, winds and rains begin.

EPES will also help them equip the tiny community center and conduct training in first aid and other health care skills to help prevent the respiratory illnesses that the cruel Southern Chile winter always brings.

Chile's first Comfort for Kids programs hold closing ceremony
On a chilly winter day in the community of Penco, we held the closing ceremony for the Comfort for Kids program, implemented by the Educacion Popular en Salud (or EPES) Foundation with the support of Mercy Corps. Approximately 150 of the 200 children that participated in the program in this community (there are more than 1,000 children participating in the entire program) showed up for the celebration accompanied, for the most part, by a significant adult — mother, father, grandfather, grandmother or aunt.  
By Sandra Castañeda

Fundación EPES and Mercy Corps, a US-based humanitarian aid organization with extensive experience in working with children affected by natural disasters, will train adult mentors to work with children affected by post traumatic stress following the earthquake and tsunami, . The program, which will be offered in Hualpén, Penco, Coronel and other localitie, trains teachers and community leaders to help children using Mercy Corps' Comfort 4 Kids methodology to promote resilience among young survivors of natural disasters.
EPES staff meet with psychologists from Mercy Corps, sent to Chile from Peru, to coordinate the training of adult mentors for workshops beginning mid April.
Rosario Castillo, Fundación EPES Ejecutive Secretary, spoke to reporters from TVN (the Chilean national TV channel) about the program.

EPES Concepción delivera water.
Children play “Earthquake” in the
community of Hualpén, Concepción , Chile .

Visiting Talcahuano
Yesterday afternoon, we drove through one of the worst hit areas, the Chilean port city Talcahuano, which is just miles from Hualpen where EPES is located. We stood and wept at the devastation. It is completely overwhelming".
The earthquake, coupled with a massive tsunami, completely ruined the port and all of the downtown area in Chilean port city, Talcahuano.
  Soldiers stand watch over the area. A swamped fishing boat lies in the street.   Cargo and refuse lay about after the tsunami hit, a 2.5 meter (7.5 feet) wave.


EPES expresses its dismay for the powerful earthquake that shook our country on February 27th in the early morning, especially for the numerous people who have died, disappeared or are homeless. We are saddened that the number of people found missing, dead, and displaced is increasing every day.

We are especially concerned for the Bío Bío Region, where we have worked for more than 27 years promoting the organization of communities and their right to health. Our regional headquarters is located in this area, which was one of the most affected by the earthquake. The region has been left devastated, without water, electricity, gas and access to basic foods.

Because of ongoing and persistent communication problems, we still don´t have information about the personal and family situation of all of our EPES Concepción staff members. We hope to find them okay and without major damages to their homes. In addition, we still do not know about the actual impact of the earthquake to our center. We only know that it has suffered much internal damage and is without basic services like water, electricity and telephone.

Some good news in all of this tragedy is that Dr.. Lautaro López, the director of EPES Concepción, has informed us today that the well in the yard of the EPES Center is drawing water, supplying water to 150 people in nearby communities, helping to organize the community against tremendous adversity.

We also want to share that on Monday March 1st, EPES helped establish the Comité Intereclesiástico de Emergencia Chile 2010 (Inter-Church Emergency Committee Chile 2010), whose principal purpose is to coordinate aid for the most affected communities, with the help of international churches and ecumenical organizations. We participated in the first meeting with representatives from the Methodist Church, Lutheran Evangelican Church in Chile, Universal Apostolic Mission Church, FASIC, SEPADE, CLAI Chile.

One decision the Committee made was to visit the Bio Bio Region to give our support to our friends, colleagues, and pastors, and to be able to collectively assess the actual situation and the principal necessities. The trip had to be postponed, because of the level of violence in the area and the strict curfew, both of which hinder carrying out a needs assessment . EPES will be traveling to Concepcion on Thursday, March 4th with members of the Committee.

Dear friends, we thank everyone for all of the many messages received, expressing solidarity, concern, friendship and support in these times, which we greatly appreciate and that help us keep standing. Many of you have asked to help. We know that short and long-term physical reconstruction and social and mental health in the region of Bio Bio will be enormous and EPES Concepción will have an important role to play.

Donations to EPES can be given in Chile through the donation card system. Donations from a credit card can be made directly on our website at www.epes.cl, click on the icon Contamos Contigo "Dona Ahora!" (Donate Now!)

For donations from the United States, it is possible to donate through our partner Action for Health in the Americas (AHA), which will be conducting a campaign this week of solidarity and friendship with EPES Concepción and the local communities with whom they have worked for 27 years.
Action for Health in the Americas
c/o Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
4 Northcrest Drive
Clifton Park, NY  12065-2744

In Canada, you can donate through Canadians for Popular Education in Health, a fund established to support EPES's work. You can do this by logging on to http://tidescanada.org/funds/health/canadians-for-popular-education-in-health-epes-fund. For more information about how to donate money using checks, go to http://tidescanada.org/donate. We grant receipts for donations of $25 or more.


A hug with hope and thanks,

March 2, 2010

The EPES team would like to thank each and every one of the organizations and individuals who have taken the time to accompany us in these difficult
moments to tell us: “PRESENTE! WE’RE WITH YOU!!”



A seis meses del sismo, y mucho por hacer:
CIECH - Comité Intereclesiástico de Emergencia de Chile

Owatonna People´s Press
 > EPES continues to assist  in quake recovery efforts
 > Across the World
Global Ministries of the Disciples of Christ
 > Chile Earthquake  Response
 > Chile Earthquake Relief
>Chile's first Comfort for kid...
Sandra Castañeda
>Healing the helpers
Karen Anderson
>The Mercy Corps Blog Karen Anderson
>Mercy Corps
ACT International
>ACT International - EPES is named as part of the ecumenical emergency committee
Wheat Ridge
>Healing and Rebuilding in Chile
>AHA letter
TIDES Canada
>Tides Canada: Canadian Charities providing
Chile earthquake relief
TimeUnion.com / Albany
>From Guilderland to Chile


arriba Arriba    

Santiago: Gral. Köerner 38, P 30 Gran Avenida, El Bosque. Casilla100, Correo 14, La Cisterna    
Fono (56-2) 54 87 617, Fax: (56-2) 54 86 021, Email: [email protected]     
Concepción: Cautín 9133, Población René Schneider,  Hualpén. Fono/Fax: (56-41) 247 0570. E-mail: [email protected]