The Chilean village of Lolol in the Colchagua region has sent its heartfelt thanks, in the form of a plaque, to the people of the Falklands and the Chilean Community in the Islands for their very generous support following the devastation of buildings in the area as a result of the earthquake in 2010.
Falklands resident and Chilean born Celia Short, who organised the raising of a massive £26,600.19 shortly after the February 27 earthquake, told Penguin News that during a trip to Chile to visit her family she was taken on a surprise visit to Lolol.
Mrs Short had in fact earlier been invited to visit the village, and FIG had offered to pay, but she explained she preferred not to accept funding for the flight, “it was never the idea to take money from the government for that.”
However, much later, having become concerned about rumours that the LAN flight might be withdrawn as a result of Argentine political pressure, she decided to fund a private trip to see her sister and other family members.
During the visit her sister suggested they take a journey to the Santa Cruz area. On arrival she took a phone call from the Alcalde (mayor) of Lolol, Marco Antonio Marin Rodriguez, and discovered the trip had been pre-planned by the Alcalde and her sister, as a surprise, so that she would have the opportunity to view the buildings repaired or rebuilt as a result of money sent from the Falklands.
A government vehicle was sent to Santa Cruz and one hour later she found herself the guest of the Alcalde: “He was so happy to see me he couldn’t thank us enough for all of the money sent from the Falkland Islands people and Chileans.”
She was taken to, “a few houses, the church and we went to the school.” The headmaster was collected from the school and she was shown the new roof funded by the Falklands donation. “There is still a lot to be done in that place, it was devastated, but so much work was done with our money and they were just so happy.”
She was taken to the church and to the tax office, and on introducing her to the office staff, “everybody was saying thank you, I was overwhelmed by it.”
“It was really nice to see the place and what they had done with our money and to see the efforts. The Falkland Islands people are always very generous in helping any country that needs it, anybody, but sometimes we don’t know where the money has gone or what they have done with it and in this case I had had regular contact, and they were always telling me, we have used this much money for this, and that much money for that. So I knew all the time; and then to actually go there I was so delighted and happy.”
Mrs Short had initially written to a number of towns in Chile in order to research a specific place in most need of the funds; eventually with help from her sister who works for the Chilean Air Force the village of Lolol was decided upon. The village is situated in a very rural area and as a result of the disaster most residents were devoid of basic conditions.
She explained that when the appeal was launched in the Falklands it was a very touching time for her. Companies in the Islands gave thousands of pounds, “and sometimes pensioners would come and give £20 it was so kind and generous, and one school teacher gave £1000, but whether it was £20 or £2 it was all so kind.”
Mrs Short is now looking into a place where the plaque might hang, “where the Falkland Islands people can get to see it,” however, she is still uncertain where that should be, “we don’t really have a public place where things like that can go.” She said she would be open to suggestions with regard to a suitable venue. Lolol spans an area of 596.9 km2 (230 sq mi) and has just over 6,000 inhabitants. (Penguin News)