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Issue 302 – Frome Rotarian behind the lens in earthquake-hit Chile

A Frome Rotarian will be returning next week from central Chile, where he has been making a film about how the Rotary has helped people made homeless by a major earthquake that struck in February this year.

An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale struck central Chile on 27th February and was followed by a tsunami that inundated coastal areas. More than 500 people died and 1.5 million were made homeless.
Local film-maker Ernie McKenna was invited to join fellow Rotarian Hugo Pike, who is chair of the water-survival box project, on a trip to see how communities affected by the earthquake were helped by the Rotary project.
Ernie left on Sunday and is due to return on Monday 21st June. Before he left, Frome Times caught up with him. He said, “I have never done something like this before. I run a small production company which makes training videos and ‘how to’ videos, and I am very happy to have the chance to make a video like this.
“I imagine it will be quite a culture shock when I get there – it certainly isn’t going to be a jolly. We will be going to the areas that were hit hardest by the earthquake.”
The priorities of the water-box survival project are to provide clean drinking water, food and shelter. Contact was made with the Rotary co-ordinator for incoming aid in Chile and during March and April a total of 400 water-survival boxes were sent out. The consignments were received by members of the Rotary Club of Valparaiso who then linked with other Rotary clubs in Talca and Chillan to distribute boxes to families that had no access to clean water.
The purpose of Ernie’s visit is to obtain direct feedback from families that received the boxes and from Rotarians responsible for receipt and distribution. This information will be used to review all aspects of the project for the benefit of families that suffer natural and man-made disasters in the future. The fact-finding visit will take in Valparaiso, Talca, Chillan, and Concepcion (the major city closest to the epicentre).
Ernie said, “If the funds are available, we are hoping to produce around 2,000 copies of the film which will be sent out to Rotary clubs across the country, as well as schools.
“The idea is to get them on board and raise more money to fund more boxes for other disasters.”
The Rotary water-survival box has been developed precisely for such disasters and provides a means of purifying water using chlorine tablets and a carbon filter. The current kit can give a family of five 2 litres of water each per day for one year. Other essential items include kitchen equipment (cooking pots, utensils, bowls and mugs); health and hygiene items; basic shelter and simple tools; cloth and sewing kit; etc.
Each water-survival box costs £150 (including the cost of air freight). Donations should be sent to Worldwaterworks Limited, c/o Rotary, The White House, Pensford, Bristol BS39 4NE – see for further details.

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