On Thursday, March 4, 2010, four of us set off for Pencahue, Chile. Initially, we wanted to bring help to the victims, and I wanted to visit my sister who lost her entire house. But God and technical advancements made it possible to go beyond our original intentions. The large scale of the destruction moved us to visit more places including Botalcura, Corinto, Curepto, Iloca, Hualañe, Sagrada Familia and some others.
The people were living outside their homes from being afraid, or simply because their homes no longer existed. We saw babies sleeping on the street, senior citizens crying, and trying to explain through their faith the great devastation
caused by the enormous temblor. A woman came to us to tell us, “I don’t want any help. Thanks to God, I am alive and have something to survive on. What I want is that you listen to me.”
The emotional aftermath can be felt everywhere. People are still shaken up and are afraid of noises and are suffering from the effects of exhaustion. Material needs are important, but let’s not forget the other dimensions of human life. The reconstruction of this country is not only about houses; it is moral too. We cannot deny the looting or pretend that it never happened. The spiritual and psychological worlds are also damaged and in need of repair.
The truth is that words cannot express what we felt and experienced. As an older woman put it: “God has given me this experience so I could walk through it with Him.”
Fr. Alvaro Martinez lives and works in Chile