I hope it is ok to copy you all but I wanted to reach as many people as
The 8.8 earthquake in Chile last weekend has greatly impacted the whole
country. I know you have all probably seen footage and pictures of some of the
scenes that have been going around and have an idea of the level of
It is terrible. Complete towns have been wiped out. People have lost
families, homes and their source of income.
In the last election the elected President sold us the idea that we would
work to become a developed economy in the next 10 years. We would do everything
needed to jump from a per capita income (ppp) of US$14,000 to US$24,000. We were
all traped by the idea.
However that will now have to wait and we will need to spend the next 4
years reconstructing the country. It is very tough to come to terms with the
fact that you must postpone this great dream due to a situation that is
completely out of your control.
Chile is country that is used to earthquakes. Every 20 years we loose a
major town or city. From the moment we are born we know that in our lifetime
we will for sure experience and earthquake.
However the extension this has taken is something we had not experienced
before. The territory affected encloses 80% of the population of Chile.
45% of industrial capacity has been affected from medium to severely
as reported by industry. Highways and bridges, which are crucial to our
connectivity have been damaged. The first couple of days we were having trouble
feeding some of the most affected towns because we couldnīt reach them.
We are a modest country and although very disciplined in the management of
its finances, we donīt have great resources. Fortunately, this events caught us
with savings and very little debt.
We, Austrade staff are greatly affected. Fortunately all of us and our
families are ok. We did not loose our homes. But our personal logistics have
been affected because people around us, highways, basic services and schools are
all affected. The amount of sad stories that each of us has been touched by are
countless. Aside from watching a million more on TV and radio everyday.
Hardworking people have lost everything and as a people we cannot leave them on
The whole country has been organizing since day one in several aid
crusades. First, to get food and water to the people whose towns were wiped out
by the Tsunamies. The government has been doing part of this but initiatives by
groups of people have been working on this as well, including our kids schools,
groups of friends etc.
Second, to get medical aid to them. Fortunately other countries have send
us emergency hospitals, together with doctors, to replace the hospital capacity
of 9 hospitals that are on the floor and 10 others that were left only partially
operational. Also the meds schools in the country have sent this morning 200 of
their students in the last two years of med school to assist in any way
possible, and to replace medical personnel who has been working not stop from
And tonight a 24 hour Telethon called "Chile helps Chile" (Chile ayuda a
Chile) will start at 10pm local time, which will be broadcasted by all the local
TV stations and radios. The idea is to raise money to build 30,000 emergency
homes to provide some shelter to the families that have been left homeless,
while permanent housing is build. We need to raise AUD$32million.
If any of you want to help, here is the web page with the details for
making donations to the organization leading the emergency homes initiative
together with the government.
Austrade Santiago will be extremely grateful if you can help. It doesnīt
matter how little or how big. It all adds up and we can build the homes needed
for the people left without shelter. Fall is about to start and the main area in
which the greater number of homeless people are is cold in winter and it will
begin raining in about one month. We have a bit of time but we need to move
Thanks all for your attention and best wishes to everyone.