Earthquake Response in Peru

by Global Communities

The report below outlines CHF's response activities, which were made possible by the support of donors. Thank you for your generous support!

Children begin their first day of school in a trailer
Children begin their first day of school in a trailer

* 405 shelters built * 125 latrines planned * 84 small grants disbursed * 3 communal kitchens built * 8 classrooms built * 561 families mobilized

As part of these efforts, the Emergency Response Team (CERT) has involved local engineering students for the shelter construction work and administration students for training and evaluation in the micro-business grant work. Eddie told me that the engineering students have been inspired by the project to create their own NGO in hopes of providing training on construction techniques.

Wendy Moreano, a civil engineering student
Wendy Moreano, a civil engineering student
Selinita stands with her flower stand.
Selinita stands with her flower stand.

Selinita Cabrera, 42 years old, lives in the neighborhood of Arenales in Ica, Peru. It was here that she had saved enough money to build a small adobe home for herself, her husband, her 17-year-old son, and her 67-year-old mother. Selinita earns her living selling flowers at the door of a nearby cemetery where she owns a flower stand.

Shortly after the earthquake, the CHF Emergency Response Team (CERT) met with Selinita at her flower stand. On the day of the quake, her mother had been resting at her house. “I was here working at the stand and ran to get my mother out of the house. But I arrived too late and found my house completely destroyed,” Selinita sadly recounted. “All night we looked for my mother’s body in the rubble, but we didn’t find it until the next day. I spent all of my savings on her funeral. We came to live here at the flower stand. Our beds are in the shed where I normally store the flowers. Look at how we are living….”

Two months later, Selinita is now back to work at the same flower stand, thanks to a small business grant from CHF International and the AIG Disaster Relief Fund. “Now I have the capital to begin again. First, CHF helped me with a shelter to live in where we are [doing much] better. And it is now the second week that I have brought flowers to sell. With the profits, little by little I will improve my stand.”


Doña Luisa Araujo Bautista is a 56-year-old entrepreneur who runs a small food stand called “The Menu” in Ica, Peru. The earthquake on August 15th left her, her husband, and her three daughters without a home or their food stand, the primary source of income for this family.

“I was with my daughters in our house on the day of the earthquake. When we realized that the earthquake wasn’t stopping, we ran out of the house. In the passageway next to our house, part of the wall fell down and hit my daughter’s leg. When my husband tried to help her, he also got hurt. He still hasn’t been able to return to work as a bricklayer. At my food stand, I didn’t have dishes to serve food in or anywhere for people to sit, so my clients went to other places for lunch.”

With CHF International’s help, Luisa was able to purchase a stove, tables, benches, and dishware for her food stand. Now she and her daughters have begun a new phase of their business. “I didn’t believe that anyone was going to help us. We registered for assistance after the earthquake, but no one ever came back to help. Now that I have seen everything you have brought us--- no one has ever helped us like this. We will never forget CHF. We will always cherish this sticker to show everyone who helped us.”

“I look at how the number of clients has grown now that we have somewhere to sit and dishes. Now that we are working again, we don’t think about what the earthquake took from us. Thanks to you, we will regain everything through our hard work,” expressed Luisa.

“So, when will you come for lunch?”


CHF plans to distribute 300 micro-business grants and complete 500 shelters by December. Help us to increase this number by half -- or even more!

Dona Luisa and her new food stand.
Dona Luisa and her new food stand.
Dona Luisa shows off the interior of her new transitional shelte
Dona Luisa shows off the interior of her new transitional shelte

Today, the district of San Jose de Los Molinos looks like a war zone. Debris and rubble are strewn everywhere, and people walk silently and despondently through town as if they are waiting to be awoken from a nightmare. Children play in dusty streets and often run toward the central plaza as soon as they learn that food, water, or any sort of assistance has arrived in town. This rural community, located 20 miles northeast of Ica and more than 70 miles south of the urban epicenter of the earthquake, Pisco, is suffering its second catastrophe in less than a decade. In 1999, floods swept through the area, and, as usually happens, this Afro-Peruvian community of 7,000 had to wait months to receive assistance.

The CHF Emergency Response Team (CERT) deployed within 48 hours of the quake to assess the situation and has been on the ground working with this community to ensure that these residents are not ignored a second time. “When a major disaster occurs, relief and early response tends to be concentrated in the most accessible areas. We at CHF International always try to respond to underserved communities that usually don’t get immediate attention,” said Milton Funes, leader of CERT. CHF International has already begun building safe, seismic-resistant transitional shelters for the most vulnerable households (the elderly, the disabled, women-headed households, and those with large families), and is the first organization to have begun doing so following the quake.

Still, in order to address the many needs of the community, including providing housing for more than 4,000 families, rebuilding the town's only health clinic, and rebuilding classrooms which have been destroyed, CHF urgently needs assistance to rapidly respond. In addition to San Jose de los Molinos, the CERT team has identified an additional rural town seven miles north which is awaiting relief.

While many responders have focused their relief efforts to last week's earthquake in major affected urban areas, there still remain many isolated rural communities which have yet to receive assistance.

One such community is in San Jose de Los Molinos, the Afro-Peruvian community of 7,000 people that has been often overlooked by traditional humanitarian response mechanisms. CHF's response here is focusing on helping them to access resources for emergency shelter and economic activity, thus enabling a more rapid and sustainable reduction of the current level vulnerability.

Currently, the situation in San Jose is dire. A week after the earthquake, many families are still living in the debris of what is left of their houses. They don’t dare to leave the remainder of their homes and risk losing their few remaining assets. At the same time, massive amounts of waste and debris are posing an extreme public health risk, the worst of which is an exposed cemetery located close to schools and a children’s playground. Insecurity continues to rise with reports of robbery and assault, and water and electricity still remain cut off.

Specifically, the CERT team will work with communities to build safe emergency shelters for individuals and families and provide communities with the tools and equipment they need to begin cleaning up the debris and rubble as a priority health prevention measure. In addition, the clean up activity will serve to clear space to build the shelters and to collect materials that can be used for construction of the shelters.

With an eye on bridging the divide from immediate relief to long-term development, the CERT team will also administer a small grant fund to help family members quickly regain livelihoods through productive activity and micro-enterprise. Small grants of around $300 each can be enough to help one family restart their home-based business, enough to help revitalize the local economy and begin restoring a sense of normalcy in a truly devastated community.


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Organization Information

Global Communities

Location: Silver Spring, MD - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Global Communities
Project Leader:
Nussi Abdullah
Program Officer
Silver Spring, MD United States

Funded Project!

Thanks to 30 donors like you, a total of $3,250 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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