WV-trained youth responders are key link in relief network

David Munoz and Chris Huber
Apr 4, 2014
© 2014 Fabrizio Guzman/World Vision
Families stand in line for as long as three hours in Iquique, northern Chile, to receive a couple of gallons of clean water after the 8.2- and 7.6-magnitude earthquakes rocked the region April 1 and 2. Loss of life and building damage was minimal, but the quakes knocked out basic services like water and electricity.

Chilean youth were among the first to help their communities after the deadly magnitude-8.2earthquake  struck their area April 1.

Just one week before, they had attended a World Vision emergency preparedness training in Alto Biobio, a particularly earthquake-prone area of the country.

The training links the youth into networks of local and regional first responders to help make responses safer and more efficient. As an emergency unfolds, the volunteer first responders communicate with authorities, help neighbors, and sometimes work with World Vision staff to distribute relief supplies or provide emotional support for affected children and families. 

They developed skills in areas such as basic medical aid, counseling disaster victims, and emergency communications, among others. World Vision partners with the Red Cross, military, local governments, police, and firefighter services to provide professional-level training for the volunteers.   

While the new responsibility forced the teenagers to leave their homes during the quake’s aftermath, professional first responders praised them for responding quickly to evacuation calls.

“I have a feeling of satisfaction, because what we are doing has real impact in the lives of the children, youth, families and communities,” says Fabiano Franz, World Vision’s disaster response leader for Latin America. “Especially because we can contribute to their protection and resiliency in the face of adversity.”

More than 12,000 community leaders and youth in 14 Latin American countries have trained as first responders with World Vision since 2012.

Nearly a million people were evacuated from the coastal regions after the April 1 quake that killed six and generated a 7-foot tsunami. People in affected areas felt as many as 140 aftershocks, including a magnitude-7.6 quake late April 2.

Local World Vision staff reported April 2 that most of those affected throughout the country had returned to their homes, as the tsunami warning had been lifted. In the north near the epicenter, flights remain grounded, roads closed due to mudslides, and classes canceled.

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