Monday, March 8, 2010

Chile Ayuda a Chile

As a response to the earthquakes in Chile, the government, major media
corporations, national banks, local businesses and charities came together to
organize a 24-hour telethon called Chile Ayuda a Chile, Chile helping Chile. The
concept in and of itself is uniquely Chilean; every year (except during election
year) there is a widely respected and well supported telethon to raise money for
the children’s’ hospitals and children’s health-based charities. These telethons
raise millions of dollars annually. When my host family told me about this, I was
quite surprised, as telethons are done but definitely not popular nor anticipated
in the States (no offense, Jerry Lewis). I was even more surprised when I found
out that Chile Ayuda a Chile funds would go partly towards the national
government. This is completely beyond me, as I had never heard of a government fundraising for themselves and citizens supporting it whole-heartedly! The current president and president elect were there at the filming and made speeches. There were also other local and international artists and
personalities present, performing/making speeches, as well as videos and
updates from the depressed regions in the south. It was a very emotional 24-
hours. So where does this money go exactly? At first I thought the government
got all of the money, which would be even more interesting, but is not the case.
When I asked my family, my sister said the charity El Hogar de Cristo (a Christian-focused charity, also interesting,) but my parents didn’t know. My papá
even thought that maybe the government would get all of the money and then
decide themselves where it would be distributed exactly. The official website
didn’t say where exactly. The telethon was very successful, but who gets all of this money?

Aside from this question, it was wonderful to see the people rally around
for this cause. Like I said before, the young people here are so impressive and
active politically. For example, the youth were the ones who painted hundreds of
public buses with call-to-action phrases like, “Vamos Chile!” and, “Fuerza
Chile!” (“Let’s Go Chile” and “Be Strong Chile” respectively). The youth
volunteered hours of service to walk around Santiago with collection cans, pack
up boxes of supplies, and run donation centers around the city. The youth
organized trips themselves to go hand-deliver goods to the needy in the south. Of course the adults are also active and helpful, but the power of teenagers and
young adults here is inspiring.

On another note, since interning in the Philippines with a Christian NGO, I
believe the local church has a potentially strong impact in development. I found
this to be true again in the case of Chile Ayuda a Chile, where many donation
centers were based in churches. The local churches were a major part of the
fundraising campaign, both Catholic and Protestant. When I dropped off goods at my local church, there was a table in the front of the sanctuary with assorted
donated items and a sign that read, “Chile: Una Sola Mesa,” which translates
(within this context) to “Chile: One Table United.” Way to go Church, for serving
your people and doing your duty well! 

In the end, the total amount of money raised is the equivalent of $60,000,000!
Sixty million, more than double the goal.

¡Vamos Chile, Fuerza Chile!

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