Habitat Chile rebuilds with partner families
Manuel Ramirez and his wife Claudia Retamal had called the Chilean village of Villa Prat home their entire lives. Each day, Manuel woke up to either plant or harvest, depending on the season. He worked hard and eventually was able to build a solid, adobe home—something he had never thought possible.
On the morning of Feb. 27, when the earth began to shake, Manuel held 6-yearold Rodrigo and 2-year-old Martin as the walls collapsed. “Everything was falling to the ground,” he recalls. “But I grabbed my two children, and we managed to escape.”
Once outside, the family watched as their dream flattened to rubble. The four spent that night on the cold street. As the days passed, Manuel and Claudia began to recover what remained after the disaster—a few clothes, some toys, one or two salvageable pieces of furniture, a torn tablecloth. A few more days, and the Ramirez family watched as trucks carted off the rest of their belongings. Rodrigo and Martin became ill, the family living in an improvised shelter that Manuel built from scraps.
Then a teacher at Rodrigo’s school who was volunteering told Manuel about Habitat for Humanity Chile’s response program. With the assistance of local volunteers, the Ramirez family built their new house in just four days. “We’re not going to be cold anymore,” says Manuel, smiling. “This, again, has become a place that we can call home.”
Throughout the next five years, Habitat Chile plans to serve at least 10,000 families in the five earthquake-affected regions, prioritizing the most vulnerable areas. Efforts include repairing homes and constructing prefabricated, low-cost, climate-appropriate and earthquake-resistant housing. An additional 5,000 families will be served through Habitat Resource Centers.