"Thank you all for being here today to witness the ceremony of a stone plaque’s erection. Let's remember Tzu Chi Foundation from Taiwan," said Julio, the Mayor of Cobquecura.
Ten years after the earthquake in Chile, a stone plaque was erected in Cobquecura to commemorate the incident and the mayor had expressed his gratitude to Taiwan. Behind him, the national flag of Chile and Taiwan were seen fluttering in the wind to witness this glorious moment.
Erection of a stone plaque to commemorate the year 2010
On 17 February 2010, Chile was hit by a 8.8 magnitude earthquake off the coast. Tzu Chi launched the first large-scale distribution of aid materials in Chile from 27 March to 28 March local time. A total of three aid distribution events were carried out in three hardest hit areas, namely Dicato, Tumbes and Gokula, benefiting a total of 2,500 households.
The reconstruction of the disaster hit zone came to completion in the following year. To thank the aid and assistance by Tzu Chi, the mayor of Cobquecura, Julio set up a plaque to commemorate Tzu Chi's help for the residents of Cobquecura. The plaque was damaged after ten years and the mayor decided to repair it.
He said that tens of thousands of Chileans were affected by the earthquake that happened ten years ago. Now that they have rebuilt their homes and risen again, they still remember how Tzu Chi had helped them many times by providing tents, food, blankets and personal hygiene items etc. “All those daily necessities are of great help to the affected families of Cobquecura."
There are more than 5,600 residents in Cobquecura, most of them are either old or weak and many are women and children. The youngsters have gone to other cities to make a living, and thus, Cobquecura became the poorest town in Chile. With such affinity, volunteers decided to distribute aid supplies again to 200 poor families in Cobquecura after a month of coordination.
The distribution was carried out by volunteers from Chianti and San Diego. Chianti volunteers oversaw procurement and packing of the aid materials while the fund is sponsored by volunteers from San Diego.
The honour goes to Taiwan despite full local effort
The distance between San Diego and Cobquecura is 411 kilometers, and it takes about seven hours of travelling by bus. At around 5:30 pm on 26 February, 6 volunteers from San Diego, accompanied by two officials from the Taiwan office in Chile, arrived at Cobquecura at past 12 midnight. However, volunteers still woke up early the next day.
The next early morning was foggy, and the seaside was very windy. It was hard to imagine that a summer’s day could be this cold. Volunteers put on their winter clothes and started moving the aid supplies for delivery to La Loberia.
The plaque is erected at a crowded seaside, symbolizing Chile's gratitude towards Taiwan.
In his speech, Mayor Julio made a special mention, "Tzu Chi volunteers had come here from a faraway country with the spirit of dedication to help us rebuild our homes and helped many other towns in Chile. These few years, Tzu Chi volunteers have continued to care for 12 elderly people living alone every month and provide them with daily supplies regularly."
Moved by Tzu Chi enduring selfless love, Mayor Julio said, "This spirit of selfless love is our role model and very worthy of our learning. Thank you everyone for witnessing the ceremony of the erection of plaque today, let us remember this Tzu Chi Foundation from Taiwan."
Li Jin-Shuang, the advisor of Oficina Económica y Cultural de Taipei en Chile was at the site to pay tribute to the representatives.
After distributing aid supplies to the victims of the strong earthquake ten years ago, a Tzu Chi contact point was established on 29 March. In the same year, Tzu Chi Liaison Office was established on 26 May. Volunteer Wu Hui Lan shared, "Tzu Chi has been with you for the past ten years. This time we took a bus journey for more than seven hours to arrive here, we hope to bring love and show our care to everyone."