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Chile relief focuses on food, shelter
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
March 11, 2010

Chile relief focuses on food, shelter

Chile relief focuses on food, shelter
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
March 11, 2010

CONCEPCION, Chile — Southern

Baptist disaster relief volunteers are on the ground in Chile, partnering with

Chilean Baptists to address critical needs in two areas hit hard by the

8.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country Feb. 27.

A six-member team from the South Carolina Baptist Convention landed in Santiago

March 9 and a second team plans to arrive March 15. Two teams from the Southern

Baptists of Texas Convention are scheduled to arrive March 12.

The teams, which specialize in mass feeding operations, will set up kitchens

capable of producing as many as 1,000 meals daily.

IMB photo

In Chile, Southern Baptist assessment team members, from left, Rick Miller, Jim Howard and Mike Sanders examine earthquake damage to the Baptist church in Cauquenes.

The South Carolina team began by purchasing equipment for two kitchens, using

money provided by Southern Baptist hunger and relief funds, said Charles Clark,

an International Mission Board missionary who serves as strategy leader for the

part of South America that includes Chile.

The South Carolina and Texas feeding teams will train Chilean Baptist partners

to run the kitchens and distribute meals themselves. The approach reflects an

overall strategy of assisting Chilean Baptists as they develop and fine-tune

their own disaster response mechanisms.

South Carolina Baptists also are preparing to send a planeload of medical

equipment, said Cliff Satterwhite, director of disaster relief for the state

convention. Five of the 13 hospitals in the quake region were destroyed and are

in dire need of medical equipment and medication. The equipment, which is being

donated by Southeastern Medical Supply, will be transported into Chile with the

country’s military providing logistical support.

The relief effort in Chile is shaping up as an excellent example of Baptist

cooperation, said Jeff Palmer, executive director of Baptist Global Response,

an international relief and development organization.

“It has been wonderful to see Southern Baptists cooperating on all levels. The

state disaster relief teams from Texas and South Carolina have provided solid

expertise in disaster relief. The in-country partners with the International

Mission Board provided great leadership,” Palmer said.

“But one of the best

things was to see the partnership with Chilean Baptists, who will be there

responding and ministering long after the outsiders are gone.”

The initial civil disturbances, like looting and violence, that broke out in

the aftermath of the earthquake have been brought under control by the Chilean

military and police, according to news services. An estimated 2 million people

have been affected by the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami that struck

coastal villages. Between 500,000 and 1.5 million houses were destroyed and

access to food, water and electricity remain critical needs.

The death toll from the disaster, however, has been reduced to 528, according

to the reliefweb.int website. Apparently, the number of displaced people

mistakenly was included in the death toll figure at one point.

In addition to the kitchen units, an initial disbursement of $150,000 from

Southern Baptist relief funds has been used to purchase water, first-aid

supplies and other relief materials for distribution in the quake zone, Clark

said.

Another immediate need is emergency shelter, Clark said. “While some tents and

tarps will be used for shelter, another option is a temporary pine-sided,

tin-roofed, slatted-floor house that can be put together in a couple of hours,”

he said. “The materials, labor and know-how are readily available locally. The

cost is about $500 to $600 each to construct.”

The possibility of providing 500 to 600 of the shelters, using $300,000 in

disaster relief funds, is being evaluated, Clark said.

Partnership with Chilean Baptist representatives has been crucial to assessing

the need and launching the joint relief effort, Clark noted.

“We have been traveling with three representatives of the Chile Baptist

Convention who have been instrumental in our contacts with local Baptist

churches,” Clark said. “They are working on a number of different relief

fronts, including food and basic needs distribution. El Sembrador Baptist

Church of Talca has been generous to let us use their sanctuary as a dormitory,

dining room and headquarters.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press. For more

information about the Chile relief effort, visit www.imb.org. Donations to

Southern Baptist Chilean relief may be made at http://www.imb.org, click on the

Chile quake response graphic. One hundred percent of each donation goes to meet

human needs. Updated prayer requests can be viewed at imb.org/pray.)