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  • Approved for CNN

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    Posted March 17, 2010 by
    SarahinChile
    Location
    Constitucion, Chile
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Earthquakes in Chile

    Hope In Constitucion

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Missionary SarahinChile told me, 'I wanted people to know about Juan, and about the hope that even an earthquake and tsunami cannot snuff out.'
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    Juan Emilio Arraya called to us from his ruined home.  My co-missionary Bekii and I were picking our way through the destruction in the streets of Constitucion, listening to people's stories and capturing images of what the earthquake and tsunami left in its wake.

     

    Swallowing our fear at entering the structure which was partially collapsed and entirely unstable, we followed him in to hear his story.

     

    With a flat voice he waved towards various rubble-filled rooms, "That was our kitchen, our bathroom, my daughter's room.."  The adobe walls were cracked with entire sections missing.  Framed walls bulged at impossible angles and we both mentally planned an escape route if an aftershock hit while talking to Juan.

     

    Living in this home for thirty-three years, Juan raised three children here, taking pride in improvements he had made over time.  When the quake hit he said, "I believed I was going to die".

     

    Crying openly he spoke of his frustration with neighbors who are taking advantage of relief efforts; re-selling tents intended for homeless families.  As for him, he said, "I will build my house, with my own hands, I will build my house, thanks to God.  Unless my wife is too afraid, if she's afraid to live here we'll leave".

     

    Climbing the wall in his patio is a lovely plant called Copihue, which he had brought from the Cordillera (Andes Mountains) and nurtured for years.  To him it is "a sign of life here, of hope".

     

    We prayed for him and with eyes full of tears he thanked us; "This is what people need right now."  We left his precarious home with flowers in our hands, he shared his hope with us.

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