Chilean First Lady praises volunteers responding to devastating forest fires

By Alejandro Becker in Quillon

Chilean first lady Cecilia Morel made an unexpected visit to the Amanda Chavez Shelter in the commune of Quillon following devastating fires last week. The shelter, which is operated by the Chilean Red Cross, is currently home to 19 people who lost their homes in the fires.

The President’s wife spoke to residents at the shelter and promised that the government would help in the recovery and reconstruction of houses that has been damaged or destroyed.

Special attention was paid to the volunteers working at the shelter, who are lead by risk management sub-director, Rosa Barrera. Mrs Morel, whose mother Paulina Montes Brunet volunteered at the Chilean Red Cross, paused to give thanks for all the difficult but important work being done. “I thank you for the work you are doing and that you have always done, during emergencies,” she said. “I know that it is not only now that you are helping, but that you have done so throughout the organization’s existence.”

The Minister of Social Development, Joaquin Lavin and Victor Lobos, representative of the President in Bio-Bio, accompanied the Mrs Morel during the visit. Minister Lavin said: “These stories are dramatic; some people lost their homes, which had been rebuilt after the earthquake in February 2010. Moreover, for some the severity of this event surpasses the earthquake.”