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.