• Gustavo Driau

The church in Chile, adapting programs to emergency

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile develops an emergency migrant accompaniment and assistance project in the city of Osorno, almost 600 miles south of Santiago.

The project, which is implemented by the Congregation La Paz, and whose pastor is Marco Garrido, is funded by LDR (Lutheran Disaster Response-ELCA)

The church had started supporting migrants years ago. In February 2020, they began the implementation of a wider project with support from ELCA in February 2020, but the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically altered plans in Osorno, where there is a major outbreak of the disease. Compulsory confinement has affected the mobility of the whole society in Osorno. The isolation produces a chain of negative impacts on the economy, the lack of work and incomes, and finally, access to food.

In this context, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile has been forced to adapt the activities of the emergency migrant support project to include the distribution of food to the s individual beneficiaries and families.

IELCH and the congregation have a database of the beneficiaries of the project, which consists of migrant families from Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina Colombia, and Ecuador. In the face of the pandemic situation, the program included some locally born people because of their extreme need and vulnerability to the lack of food.

The implementation team in Osorno, coordinated by Pastor Marco Garrido, performed a first task that was to review and adjust the beneficiaries list.

The second challenge was to organize the purchase of the food and hygiene items in a city, Osorno, which is in total quarantine. Happily, the wholesaler supplier could deliver food and hygiene items to the church headquarters. Then church members and other volunteers, who make up the implementation team, reviewed the quantity and quality of the content of the 180 product boxes.

The next step was to convene small groups of 5 beneficiaries to withdraw the goods and comply with accountability mechanisms, up to a total of 40 people for each call. A team of two volunteers monitored the registration of beneficiaries, and two other young volunteers delivered food boxes and hygiene items. The implementation team also has a group of volunteers that deals with the tasks of online administration and communication and telephony to arrange purchases, deliveries, and the call to beneficiaries.

A moving apprenticeship was, after delivering the foodstuff, the arrival of new people to apply for food. These nearly 20 people who arrived after the activity closed are not on the beneficiary list, but they approached because of their extreme need and hunger they find themselves in. It is a sample of the critical situation that the most vulnerable population is going through today in Osorno. The program implementation team is envisioning other ways and campaigns to collect food because, in the next three months, the situation will become even worst.

Bishop Izani Bruch oversights and leads the church since 2019. Mrs. Damaris Trujillo is the president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile, as well since 2019.

Photos and narratives: Pastor Marco Garrido

Transcription and edition: Gustavo Driau

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