29 Oct 2011, Posted by Jack
The inaugural trip as the FullCircle Project was prompted by our desire to participate in disaster relief efforts in Concepción, Chile, where a series of devastating earthquakes struck on February 27th, 2010. Concepción and the coastal fishing communities to the west of the city boar the brunt of the damage caused by the magnitude 8.8 quake. In the greater Valparaiso-Concepción-Temuco region, an estimated 370,000 houses and 4,013 schools were destroyed, displacing as many as 800,000 people.
In July 2010, after an eye-opening and saddening bus ride from the capital city of Santiago through damaged regions on the peripheral of the quake, the FullCircle crew arrived in the heart of the devastation; downtown Concepción. Here we met up with a large group of Chilean volunteers from a non-governmental organization called Un Techo Para Chile (A Roof For Chile)
Un Techo Para Chile focuses on improving the quality of life of impoverished families through transitional housing and social inclusion programs (www.untechoparachile.cl). However, in the wake of the disaster, Un Techodirected all of its resources toward disaster relief, specifically temporary housing encampments for displaced families.
For the following 10 days we worked alongside Un Techo volunteers in a temporary housing camp in a suburb of Concepción called Las Salinas. During this time we constructed a kindergarten and playground with the hopes that the children of the encampment would be able to not only continue their education, but to have a safe place to play and spend time with one another during these challenging times.
The entire volunteer crew stayed on the cement floor of a damaged but intact public school a few blocks from the housing encampment. We were awoken countless times by temblores (aftershock tremors), which served as harsh reminders that the reality of the disaster was still very much occurring. This fact was strengthened by the new families that poured into the camp at Las Salinas daily looking for a roof to shelter them.
Our time in Las Salinas proved to be a profoundly impactful experience for the members of FullCircle. But more than that, working and living among these inspiring and resilient people planted a seed that has since grown into a philosophy of participation and connection. The families in Las Salinas are the embodiment of our mission; to pass on the seeds of compassion, contribution, and human connection that they have passed on to us.
The FullCircle Team