Mobilizing Efforts and Resources: Ashoka Fellows Respond to Reconstruct Chile

March 9, 2010

Arlington, VA (February 27, 2010) Last week, Chile was hit with an 8.8 magnitude earthquake, the fifth most powerful earthquake in history. Moments after the earthquake, Ashoka’s staff in the Southern Cone were in contact with the 34 Ashoka Fellows residing in Chile to offer them psychological support and appraise their needs. Ashoka has now been able to communicate with nearly all of them, and although the material losses are great, the Fellows, their families and constituents are accounted for and safe.
Days after the earthquake, Ashoka Chile Fellow Macarena Currim said: “We now need to reinvent ourselves at the rate at which the most affected families need us to. Although this has been terrifying, it is clear that we, Chileans, are survivors.” Ashoka Chile Fellow Ximena Abogabir and many others joined Macarena in thanking Ashoka for its support and for acting as a refuge in these difficult times: “Thank you all for sharing our dreams, but also our pains. It is clear that we can count on each other.”

Ashoka Fellows in the country are quickly responding to their communities’ needs. For the next two months, most will be focusing their efforts on addressing the affected populations’ short term needs. For example, through his organization, Ashoka Chile Fellow Caduzzi Salas is asking for bottled water, non-perishable food items, personal hygiene supplies, lamps and tents. Most importantly, Caduzzi mentioned the need for school supplies: young students were getting ready to start the new school year before the earthquake struck and having lost everything, their parents are not in a position to buy school supplies.

Ashoka Chile Fellow Pedro Serrano has begun a workshop on emergency shelter in partnership with the Federico Santa María (FSM) University. He is working with a team of eight architects and engineers and 300 student volunteers to build hundreds of low cost provisional shelters and sanitation infrastructures. To make this initiative a reality, Pedro is currently looking to leverage the funding he just received from FSM University.

Yet another example is that of Ashoka Chile Fellow Vicky Quevedo who is seeking immediate support to rebuild the community radios affected by the earthquake.

This emergency response phase will be quickly followed by a long-term planning and reconstruction phase. Ashoka Fellows have mobilized their communities of changemakers and are already beginning to see how they can work as a coordinated group to organize this larger effort with the support of the Ashoka Southern Cone office.

If you are interested in supporting the short and long-term reconstruction efforts in Chile, do not hesitate to contact Maria Fonseca ( and Ana Estenssoro ( in the Ashoka Southern Cone office. (Phone: +54 11 4393-8646).

About Ashoka

Founded in 1980, Ashoka is the world’s working community of more than 2,000 leading social entrepreneurs. It champions the most important new social change ideas and supports the entrepreneurs behind them by helping them get started, grow, succeed, and collaborate. As Ashoka expands its capacity to integrate and connect social and business entrepreneurs around the world, it builds an entrepreneurial infrastructure comprised of a series of global initiatives that support the fast-growing needs of the citizen sector. Ashoka’s vision is to create change today, for an Everyone A Changemaker™ society to become the reality of tomorrow. For more information, visit