Lo Espejo, a municipality in the southern part of the capital Santiago, has the distinction of being a district with one of the highest indicators of vulnerability and lack of opportunity for its inhabitants. What better place for FEDES to undertake a multilevel upgrade!
As a pilot project, FEDES has established an alliance with the Municipality of Lo Espejo to better the conditions there. The local government of Lo Espejo and other authorities have also adopted this vision as their own and are deepening their commitment to it.
In early 2010, FEDES established a Vocational School and office in Lo Espejo, a new stage signalling both a qualitative and quantitative jump in the relationship.
Following are commitments from FEDES in cooperation with the Lo Espejo community:
(1) The Foundation has installed a Vocational School on a premises granted by the Municipality, with FEDES undertaking a major remodeling of the property.
(2) We are building capacity for “Network for the Disabled”, a local volunteer group. There is a register of over 1000 confined individuals in the district, and a network of volunteers that care for them at home. FEDES, together with the Municipality, helps the initiative with equipment, supplies, training, and infrastructure.
(3) Free wheelchairs and orthopedic equipment are being distributed in the district. This distribution has been done hand-in-hand with local entities, both the Municipality and others. The recipients have been registered by the district’s agents.
(4) Supplies and equipment have been given to the primary health care centers. (In 2010, the value of these donations is estimated to be $300,000 USD.)
(5) Volunteer brigades from the USA have done humanitarian activities in the district. From these brigades have sprung small personal initiatives which have translated into homes, scholarships, and other benefits for individuals and families in the district.
(6) Food aid and household items such as blankets, personal hygiene items, and adult or infant diapers have been delivered to thousands of families in extreme poverty – inhabitants of the slums/squatter’s camps which still exist in the district, and other poor sectors.
(7) Two-thousand dental hygiene kits have been donated to school children in Lo Espejo. This is part of a greater program to support the Municipality’s educational efforts in public schools that serve the districts most vulnerable boys and girls.
This “Pilot Project” in Lo Espejo has drawn the attention of the Minister of Planning (MIDEPLAN) and other government authorities. Several UN departments in Chile have expressed interest in collaborating as well. Habitat for Humanity Chile has joined the project bringing housing solutions in the form of specially equipped rooms for disabled or confined children, elderly, or domestically abused women.
The educational consultant group REPSI has offered to train the teachers and administration of the district’s public schools, and a group of medical volunteers from some of the most prestigious private clinics have offered to support the poorest public heath care centers. Direct Relief and VIDA USA are supplying medications and other medical supplies, and a California foundation has provided the resources to rebuild a drug rehabilitation center.