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CHILE: After Massive Earthquake, Salesian Missionaries Report Property Damage but No Injuries

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries report property damage but no injuries after a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 struck the northern coast of Chile 62 miles from the city of Iquique on April 1. The initial earthquake, followed by at least 10 strong aftershocks, including one with a magnitude of 6.2, generated a tsunami and caused multiple deaths. A 6.9 foot wave resulting from the tsunami was reported off the coast of Iquique.

Salesian missionaries working and living in the region have reported that while no one enrolled in their programs was injured, some Salesian centers have sustained damage. The majority of the damage was reported in the cities of Iquique and Alto Hospicio. Don Bosco College and the Sagrado Corazón Sanctuary in Iquique and the Domingo Savio College and parish of Nuestra Señora de la Paz in Alto Hospicio sustained the most damage.

The missionaries also reported that roads to Alto Hospicio are impassable leaving the extent of the damage to programs in that area unknown. While communication remains a challenge during this recovery period, Salesians are working to keep programs operational and students safe while assisting the community with basic needs.

Salesians working in Chile focus their efforts on providing education and social services to poor, at-risk youth. At Salesian schools, universities and youth centers throughout the country, youth can access an education as well as the skills and resources necessary to break the cycle of poverty.

According to the World Bank, slightly more than 14 percent of Chile’s population lives in poverty. Although the education system in the country is far-reaching, many poor and disadvantaged youth fall through the cracks. In the city of Santiago, hunger, homelessness and poverty threaten hundreds of children who live on the streets. And throughout the country, young people from impoverished families lack the educational opportunities available to the middle and upper classes.

“Salesians have been working across Chile for over a hundred years and they are very entrenched in their communities,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Throughout the earthquake and in the weeks and months following, Salesians will be continuing their work educating and providing for the social and emotional needs of poor youth while helping to repair and rebuild their local communities.”

In January 2013, Salesians at the Don Bosco Institute in Punta Arenas, Chile celebrated 100 years of service. The Salesian institute provides education and technical skills to youth, helping them find stable employment and a path out of poverty for themselves and their families.

For youth who lack the resources to attend Chile’s universities, Don Bosco Institute as well as other Salesian education centers in the country provide opportunities for job skills training. Today, students can choose from a variety of courses including mechanics, electronics, telecommunications, tourism services and accounting. In dual education programs, students complete their education with a chance to gain work experience at the same time.

As a result of the technical education provided by the Salesian programs, Chilean youth are more likely to find stable employment and improve their standard of living.


PHOTO: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado


ANS – Chile – After the Earthquakes

US Geological Survey – Chile Earthquake 2014

World Bank – Chile

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