I worked six years in southern Chile, and I knew the affected areas and many people who lived there. I feared the worst because of Chile’s history with terrible earthquakes. I feared for my friends’ safety, physical, mental and spiritual.
Yet, I also know the Chilean people’s spirit. Chileans have a great sense of unity in the face of great challenges. A history of earthquakes has prepared the Chilean people for such events. They have stricter building codes and better infrastructure than most Latin American countries, and they react faster to tsunami warnings.
However, their spirit goes beyond these basic preparations. Over the next few days, I received word from my friends about how they are struggling to bring back normalcy in their lives and trying to re-establish order. Communities organized to share food resources and to protect their neighbors’ homes from looters. Some communities set up a common food pantry and soup kitchen to help one another. In spite of this spirit and unity, there is still much that needs to be done.
Fr. G. Chris Saenz is pursing a Master’s degree in Boston, Mass.