Back to Chile

Heidi Isaza and her husband, Peter, at the Seattle airport. (Jon Warren/WV)

Heidi Isaza, World Vision emergency communications officer and a contributor to the magazine, is on her way to earthquake-ravaged Chile.

I love Latin America. I have visited and lived in many countries in Central and South America, including Chile. I love the people, the culture, the music, the food. But, most of all, I love the people—their smiles, their joy, and their never-say-die attitude.

When I first visited Chile four years ago, I immediately felt at home. I am from a small town on the Columbia River in Washington state. I grew up next to the water, shadowed by tree-covered mountains, eating blackberry pies, apples, and salmon—many of the same things I experienced in Chile.

When I first heard about the devastating earthquake, I couldn’t believe my ears. When they said 8.8, I asked my husband, “How far up does the Richter scale go?” My heart went out to the people—their world had just been rocked in many ways, literally and figuratively.

Heidi gives an interview to Seattle media. (Peter Isaza)

Heidi gives an interview to Seattle media before catching her plane. (Peter Isaza)

I knew that much of World Vision’s sponsorship and development work is located in the areas around the epicenter and that people living in poverty and children are often the most affected in these circumstances. Did their houses fall? Were they injured? Do they have food to eat and water to drink? How will they be able to start over?

Right now I am sitting on a plane on my way to Chile. This will be a very different trip than the one four years ago. I am going to an area close to where I was previously, but things will be completely different. We are not sure what we are going to find when we get to Concepcíon, the area hardest hit. Communication with people there has been difficult at best.

Please join me in praying for the children and their families who have lost everything and especially for World Vision’s nearly 100 staff members, most of whom also lived in the area.

Paula Saez

Note: Paula Saez, communications officer for World Vision in Chile, had just returned from working in Haiti when the quake struck. Please pray for her as she responds to the crisis in her own country.

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2 Comments

Filed under Chile earthquake, On Assignment

2 responses to “Back to Chile

  1. Hi,

    How can I make a real and fast difference right now in Chile? It seems overwhelming even to a Christian who knows a Jesus who never gets overwhelmed.
    I am a retired teacher and support 2 children with World Vision.
    I can send money, support a family in Chile, etc. but my income will only allow me to choose one. I hope I am writing to someone who has been in Chile and can help me decide.
    God Bless,
    Jim S.

  2. Heidi

    Jim,

    Thank you so much for caring about the people in Chile. I know from my time there that they are very special, intelligent, and hard-working people. And, as you read from my blogs, I left a piece of me there.

    The Bio Bio region was the area that was hardest hit by the earthquake. And, as often seems to be the case, it was one of the areas in Chile that had the most poverty to begin with. The needs are great and many families have a long road to recovery ahead of them. Not only did the earthquake cause homes to fall and entire towns to be wiped off the map by the tsunami, it also severally damaged the infrastructure and economic activities available in the area. Many of the most affected towns were ports and people lost their possessions and their livelihood. It will likely be quite some time before industry and the economy returns to these areas, which depended heavily on fishing and tourism.

    World Vision has been working for nearly 30 years in the poorest communities in this area of the country through child sponsorship. I was able to meet many children and adults whose lives have been touched by World Vision, children, and young adults who are studying and dreaming of a better future for them and their families, children who are equipped with an education, and adults who have been trained in economic activities which will help them adapt and overcome, even in times of turbulence. I would say sponsoring a child is one of the best ways to have long-lasting impact and help children and families recover in this area. This will help them be able to stay in school and continue studying while also provide their parents the time and tools they need to start over. The easiest way would probably for you to call our office at 1-888-511-6548 and ask to sponsor a child in Centro Comunitario San Carlos which is the closest sponsorship project to ground zero.

    Again, thank you for caring about the people of Chile. Please continue to keep them in your prayers as they are just now starting the uphill journey in front of them.

    Sincerely,

    Heidi

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