Baptist Global Response

After a fire, water brings relief


VALPARAISO, Chile –– Parts of Valparaiso, Chile, looked like a war zone after a fire destroyed close to 2,500 houses on April 12. The fire also killed 15 people and displaced at least 12,000, according to Chilean news reports.

“There was total devastation, and we saw people who had lost absolutely everything,” says Karen Wright, a Southern Baptist missionary who partnered with Baptist Global Response in the relief effort. “And for the first couple of weeks, people didn’t talk very much.”

Wright says BGR partners requested relief funds after the disaster so they could help distribute food and other aid. But, they discovered other organizations were already catering to those needs, and the government was distributing emergency housing. So, instead, they have assessed the situation and are using the funds to help with water access.

“We decided that the best thing we could offer them would be to help them rebuild towers and to provide a water tank,” she says.

Before the fire, Valparaiso residents had built their own makeshift water tanks and towers, and after it, the city has sent water trucks to periodically fill the receptacles. However, many of these tanks have burned. BGR’s relief effort is installing new tanks and towers for more than 100 families. Wright says when one resident heard she would receive a tank and tower, she cried and praised God.

The missionary also says the area is full of low-income families, and drugs are a problem in the community. Although the community is rough, Wright and her team have built relationships with local officials in the midst of the disaster. The president of the neighborhood association even cried each time a local pastor prayed for her.

“I just pray God continues to soften hearts here,” Wright says.

Wright asks for prayer that these relationships will strengthen and the Valparaiso community will heal quickly, and pray for the BGR team. She says each of her partners has been dealing with family issues while simultaneous helping with relief efforts. Ask God to give them endurance.

Finally, pray for volunteers. The BGR team in Chile needs more help installing tanks and towers. Those interested in donating their time to this cause can contact Wright at kswright653@hotmail.com.

You can help families in situations like this by donating to BGR’s Disaster Response Fund.

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