By John Molene
Partners Across Borders, the organizational link between St. Cloud and its sister city, Tenancingo, El Salvador, has launched a fund-raising campaign to aid victims of two earthquakes in the Tenancingo region.
The group has raised $15,000 so far, with $10,000 of that coming from the Diocese of St. Cloud.
"We're trying to collect funds to direct to Tenancingo for their rebuilding efforts," said Brother Dennis Beach, OSB, of Partners Across Borders. The group hopes area churches and community groups will help.
Nearly 1,200 homes were damaged or destroyed in the February earthquakes. Initial reports focused on other parts of El Salvador, and Tenancingo's damage was revealed later.
Data collected by the Tenancingo's mayor's office listed 92 homes destroyed, 563 homes damaged beyond repair, 536 homes damaged but repairable and 3,620 people homeless. The homeless numbers include displaced people, some of whom may be back in their homes now. Four schools and eight churches were damaged."
This is a dire crisis," Beach said. "The people of Tenancingo have been somewhat neglected because there weren't deaths in their community. ... However, their damages are still very real."
Among the Tenancingo communities hardest hit by the earthquakes were Corral Viejo, Tenancingo proper (the town center), Rosario Perico, Ji˝uco, El Pepeto, San JosÚ El Sitio, Irioma and Hacienda Nueva.
Corral Viejo, one of the communities with the closest links to Partners Across Borders, has 43 homes destroyed, 133 homes damaged beyond repair, 91 homes damaged but repairable and 932 people homeless.
Just to build temporary housing to replace the homes damaged or destroyed in the earthquakes would take more than $100,000, Beach said.
"A temporary house/shelter of corrugated tin and plastic sheeting will cost around $205, depending on transportation costs," Beach said. "Longer-term housing will clearly be much more expensive. But even if one were to take the figure of $200 for temporary shelter and multiply it only by those whose houses were destroyed totally, it would be nearly $20,000. If those whose houses were damaged beyond repair are included, the figure goes up over $100,000, and the total amount needed for temporary shelters for all homes damaged is nearly $250,000," Beach added. "And that is only temporary shelter."
Partners Across Borders also plans to bring four Salvadorans to St. Cloud in October to talk about their reconstruction efforts.
Recovery from past earthquakes in El Salvador has been slow, Beach said.
"When we were down there, we saw people living in shanty towns since 1986," Beach said.
"They are kept alive," Beach added. "To rebuild their lives is something
government has enough aid to do minimum things."