Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Hidden Side to Poverty

Posted on behalf of Erin Fitzgerald

Poverty sneaks up on you in Chile. At first glance, it isn´t that visible. The bustling airport in Santiago, the lush vineyards that line the highway leading to our agency in Valparaiso and the modern hotels and restaurants give no hint of poverty.

A closer look reveals the startling truth -- that some people here live in desperate conditions.

Scenic hills are lush and picturesque. Just beyond the horizon, little shacks are carved into the sides of cliffs where people live in dangerous locations. They have nowhere else to go. Winter storms bring wind and rain and with them the threat of mudslides.

Even those who are fortunate to live in a more stable environment still have difficulty affording homes to adequately protect their families from the elements.

On Wednesday, we visited 11-year-old Luis who lives with his grandparents and siblings. With the steep dirt roads in his community, we had to walk part of the way to his home because we were concerned that the van we were traveling in wouldn´t be able to make the trip.

Thanks to the generous donation of his sponsor, Luis and his family will soon own the land their home sits on and will receive home repairs. They look forward to a house that will better shield them from Chile´s winters.

From new clothes to shoes and soon an improved home, Luis said Children International and his sponsor have been very good to him. "They provide the things that I need, the things that I´m missing" he exclaims.

While poverty may be a little harder to find in Chile, it remains a real and lingering problem. Children International and our sponsors are providing some much-needed relief.

Erin, Andrea and David will be returning from Chile on Saturday. Next week, David will share his reflections of Chile along with more photos. And don't forget, photos and stories from this trip will appear in upcoming Children International publications, emails and blogs and on our website, so watch for them soon!

Photos by Andrea Waters and David Nebel

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