Caring for a Community in Chile
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Caring for a Community in Chile

With Foundation funds totaling $3300, our team in Chile organized not one, but three different projects to benefit
the remote village of Quel Quel

Situated nearly 1,000 miles south of the Chilean capital of Santiago, Chiloe Island (the largest island in the Chiloe archipelago) feels a world away from the mainland—and because if its geographical isolation, the region is steeped in unique mythology and beloved folkloric traditions. Chiloe Island also boasts a strong sense of community, so it came as little surprise when we learned how a Grand Circle Foundation grant of $3300 could best support the village of Quel Quel: by funding the building of a communal gathering place called a fogon, the construction of which had been partially completed, only to be halted due to lack of funds.

The fogon is located at the Quel Quel School, which was selected in 2010 to receive Foundation support. "The fogon is a common area with a bonfire, where the entire community gets together for different activities," explains Paula Rivera, OAT's Program Services Manager in Chile. "For example, this is where the elders of the community pass on the island's oral history to the young ones." It also serves as the preparation area for school meals each day. When we began our partnership with the Quel Quel School, the fogon had only its walls completed. With Foundation funds, the community was able to build the roof, floors, and windows; install the water and electrical supply; and purchase furniture and other materials.

Another essential project at the school was the renovation of the on-site greenhouse, which had fallen into disrepair. "The children have both breakfast and lunch at school each day," says Paula, "so the greenhouse provides them with nutritious vegetables." The Foundation funds also covered the renovation of the greenhouse, and a group of travelers generously volunteered to help plant the first seeds.

While the completed fogon and greenhouse have improved the quality of life for both the Quel Quel School and the community at large, our associates in Chile had one more surprise in store: a field trip for both the children and parents to Puerto Montt, capital of Llanquihue Province. "Most of the kids and many parents have never left the island," Paula explains. "They don't have the money for field trips—and even their annual Christmas party had been canceled the previous year due to lack of funds." The trip to Puerto Montt included a ferry crossing and a tour of the bustling port city, which gave the participants opportunity for both exciting new discoveries and well-deserved time for relaxation.

Thanks to our associates and travelers in Chile for doing so much to better the lives of the people of Quel Quel—both children and adults alike.

Featured in our July 2011 E-Newsletter. Read the full issue here.