Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crazy day in Dichato

Prelude to the post

I would ask that you read this post when you have some time not only to read about it, but also when you have some time to think about how easy to get caught up in our own world not even thinking about how great we have it in life. Missy and I have had to think hard about some of the complaining we have been doing about the cold here, and how we are missing home a bit.

We've also really had to stop to think about what a blessing it is to be serving down here, and also how comfortable we really are. We have a good roof over our head, a wood stove, food, running water in our house, and a bathroom and shower that we dont have to walk down the street to share with 50-100 of our neighbors.

I would ask that you really try to put yourself in the situation of the people of Dichato, The people of this small community have been through so much, and are still having to fight to get the most basic living conditions in a time where the winter climate is really taking its toll on everyone down here in the region.   After you are done reading the post I would ask you to prayerfully consider what you might be able to do for the residents of Dichato; whether it is daily prayer, a donation to an individual bathroom fund (a complete set of all bathroom fixtures is around US $100),  coming down here to help out  with a team from Riversgate church, or in another way.

One other quick disclaimer in all of this, we are not taking any sort of political stance in any of this, we are not Chilean citizens, and do not have any sort of say in who the government officials are or laws that are or are not passed. The views of what the government is or is not doing are what we have learned from newspapers, television, internet, being in Dichato, and in talking to people. We have not sat down with any government officials to get their side of the story.

Crazy Day in Dichato

So for those of you who aren't aware, Dichato is a community just to the north of us. It was the community most affected by tsunami that resulted from the earthquake on February 27th, 2010. It is about a 15 minute drive from our home here in Tomé. Map below for reference

We have spent some time here, when the Team from Wisconsin came you might remember that we helped one of the smaller camps with making some new water towers (Here is the post if you missed it). We have also gone to do various other things. This is also the town that our church, Riversgate has been raising money to help put bathrooms in the emergency homes that people are still living in.

One of the streets in the community we were visiting this day.

So bright and early Wednesday morning we went with Pastory Luciano to Dichato to start finalizing the plans to start getting people bathrooms. The people in these camps have always treated us with the upmost hospitality even though the conditions are horrible. Most people dont even have running water in their homes so they must go to a porta-potty for their bathrooms, or to a water tank to get water for cooking or wash. Things have gotten to the point now where people are now just cooking one big meal together in community buildings then sharing the meal. 

So after we had been there for about 40 minutes we had done some basic filming and taken some photos, and conducted a 15 minute interview with one of the leaders of the emergency community.

Here is a Video of the community Kitchen

As you can tell, it is not a kitchen, there are a few of these buildings around the camp, and they were built as community center buildings, for meetings, or little classes, or just getting together. This one has been repurposed as a kitchen, computer internet use, and meeting area. All in a space about 15 ft x 10 ft.

This is our Friend César Soto. We got to meet him while he was taking some classes in Concepcíon with Pastor Luciano last year, and now he is the pastor of a church in Dichato. He is really working hard with the residents in this community, and we are hoping to start working more and more with him. 

Its really hard to see many older people living in the community on their own

 Here is where fresh fruits and vegetables are sold in the central part of the community

Pastor Luciano eating a banana while we waited

Residents receiving some wood

You can see some of the washrooms in the back in the white shipping container

A few moments after we had finished the interview we were informed that the governor of the region we are in was going to be coming to the camp to talk about the issues going on, and to talk about a list of requests / demands the residents have for moving forward with reconstruction. We didn't really have any time to prepare for this, nor did we know what we were in for. 

We did know that the government has made a lot of promises to the residents down here, but has followed through with basically none of them. A few days before there was a special report on national television about what was going on down in Dichato, but because it is one of the state sponsored television channels many people believe that it wasn't too harsh towards the government. 

Here is what the whole hour and a half meeting looked in two minutes

This other small community Building was packed to the brim with leaders from the camp communities, members of the media, government officials, and us. 

Pastor Luciano has given so much to this community, in time, resources, and advocacy. It is so evident the time he has been there, when you go through the community with him, he literally knows every resident.

One of the residents of Dichato started speaking up when the meeting had stalled into excuses of why the promises had not come true. I just cannot imagine the frustration that each and every resident of these camps feels.

Here is the basic idea of what is said in the video above: Please, what do you want? That the people live and die here so that there can be a reaction? The governor says he will finally do things for once. He said that there will be a change, for what? For the worse? For the powerful, who remain rich?

During the meeting everything to me seemed fine but after it got a little bit crazy afterwards, with basically just a lot of confusion, a lot of police all over the place, and the doors getting of the building getting shut with us inside with the government officials and members of the media.

We ended up waiting around until the craziness settled down a bit (30-45 minutes) and then we were finally able to leave. One funny things that did happen in all of this is that people kept asking us what television station we were with. 

Please contact us with any questions you have pertaining to the situation in Dichato.

Jordan and Missy

No comments:

Post a Comment