“You all are angels fallen from the sky”
-Javier, Caritas Peru
From September 8, 2007 – January 12, 2008 Hands On worked alongside the people of Pisco and surrounding communities to recover from the massive 8.0 earthquake that hit on August 15, 2007. 535 volunteers came from 30 countries; 120 of whom donated 25 days or more to Project Pisco. Our largest international relief project to date, volunteers gave their time, energy, skills and hearts to an extensive array of projects carried out in the community.
When we first arrived in Pisco all of the streets were filled with rubble to such an extent that nearly every road was blocked by debris and you had to climb over mounds of rubble to get anywhere. From day 1 to day 126, volunteers completed 298 rubble jobs; the progress of the clean up is astounding! These now-cleared lots provided 327 families space to erect temporary shelter or begin to rebuild.
Con Con and Ramadilla Water System
In the farming communities of Con Con and Ramadilla volunteers reconstructed 500 meters of irrigation canal and recreated a water purification system which changes river water to clean drinking water. These projects provide water to crops and safe drinking water to 500 families.
Creating a home
Working with other organizations such as Caritas, the Salvation Army, Un Techo Para Mi Pais, and the local church Camino de Vida, Hands On volunteers constructed a total of 300 temporary modular homes, providing a durable, secure shelter for 300 families who lost their homes in the earthquake.
Click here for the Project Pisco Photo Gallery!
Pisco Medical Support
Early on in the project HODR volunteers with medical backgrounds worked with the San Juan de Dios hospital, assisting with check-ups, administration and documentation at the hospital, and joining vaccination and health education teams serving local shelters.
Back(pack) to School
We partnered with UNICEF on several projects during our 4 months in Pisco. Hands On volunteers stuffed 15,000 backpacks with school supplies, to be handed out to school children in the area ages 3-18.
Throughout the duration of Project Pisco volunteers went daily to 4 Ludotecas (safe play spaces set up by UNICEF/CEDAPP), serving an average of 50 kids each day. The Ludotecas can be found inside relocation camps that serve as shelters for those who lost their homes in the quake.
HODR volunteers also collected donations for the children and distributed toys and school supplies.
Ica Children’s Event
Collaborating with the Red Cross, UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and other local NGOs, Hands On volunteers assisted at an event for 1,000 kids in Ica that provided fun and distraction from stressful post-earthquake life.
In the Christmas spirit volunteers took on the roles of clowns, jugglers and break-dancers at 2 community events, providing holiday fun for 1,400 children in late December.
The School of Smiles
For 6 weeks volunteers interacted with 50 children a day teaching English, playing games and providing general support at the ‘Botones Rojas’ elementary school in Pisco.
Terre de Hommes
Partnering with NGO Terre Des Hommes, Hands On helped install a water system and latrine at a San Clemente relocation camp. We also worked together on food distribution in the region, specifically to “ollas communes,” or communal kitchens, sorting tons of food to be handed out.
Hands On continued supporting the communal kitchens in the Manuel Pardo neighborhood of Pisco which serve 150 people, distributing donated clothes and building a set of three showers to be used by the community.
Volunteers constructed a latrine, which also serves as the corner piece to a permanent house, consisting of a shower stall, toilet area, and sink, and serves 5 families.
Mountain of Clothing
Working in conjunction with INDECI, the Peruvian national civil defense, HODR volunteers sorted a two-story tall pile of donated clothing into hundreds of bags organized by gender and age to be distributed throughout the area.
La Catedral de Pisco
The central cathedral in Pisco was destroyed during the earthquake killing 148 people. We worked with Caritas to lay a cement floor where the church once stood and collaborated to build a temporary building where 400 children are now served breakfast every morning.
Partnering with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, volunteers coordinated and participated in the inspection, construction, and repairs to 10 temporary classrooms in Chincha and 100 in Ica, in order to ensure the continuation of children’s education while their schools are rebuilt.
Volunteers also built a one-room school from salvaged materials for the ‘Mis Pequeños Angelitos’ preschool in Pisco on the footprint of the original building.
Jenna Bush visited the UNICEF/HODR classroom project in January 2008
The beachfront community of San Andres suffered from a small tsunami triggered by the quake that devastated the beach and coastal wetlands. HODR volunteers planted palm trees, replaced damaged irrigation lines, re-established a footpath, and cleared debris left by the water.
The Abraham Valdelomar School in San Andres is on its way to once again being whole. The school, serving 30 children, is Hands On’s largest construction project to date. A volunteer favorite, many raised money for the school after leaving Project Pisco and retuning home. Volunteers have put in long but rewarding days the past few months bending rebar, mixing and pouring concrete and laying bricks.
Burners Without Borders
“Burners,” a relief group focusing on sustainable construction, has worked with Hands On’s Project Pisco since November 2007. Upon HODR’s departure, Burners have taken on a commitment to carry forth the Abraham Valedelomar School construction project as well as temporary classroom repairs in Chincha. Burners will be in the Pisco area focusing on reconstruction until June 2008. Click here to learn about how to get involved.
Adios y un abrazo!
Project Pisco closed in grand fashion when 106 volunteers gathered along side 25 Pisco community members at HODR’s favorite Pisco restaurant, site of our famed “Meat Club,” As de Oro’s. The HODR family feasted upon mountains of food, danced and shared thanks with our special friends from the community.
We would not have been able to pull off Project Pisco without the support from numerous locals. The love and support we have received from the community and the wonderful memories of all of the work accomplished, will remain with each volunteer forever. We thanked them, they thanked us and then we danced!
“Hands On has been the best therapy and form of help the community could have received after the earthquake. The motivation Hands On has provided will continue to carry us forward as we rebuild.” –Gisella, Community Member and Project Pisco Cook
By the numbers:
Total Volunteers: 535
Total Countries Represented: 30
Total Volunteer Hours: 48,500
Total Work Orders Completed: 720
Total Families Directly Served: 1,565
Total Estimated Families Indirectly Served: 9,200
Total Project Cost: $150,000.00
We directly interacted and impacted 1,565 families and through the strong partnerships that we fostered in Pisco with other NGOs like UNICEF and the Salvation Army we multiplied our volunteer’s efforts, the efforts of each organization, and created a ripple effect that we estimate touched over 9,000 families.
Thank you to all of the volunteers and donors who made this Project happen! Whether you came from near or far to lend a hand, sent a donation or spread the word about our team on the ground, thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Together, since the formation of HODR, we have reinvented the way volunteers can be effectively utilized to help after a disaster. Project Pisco showed us that we have only scratched the surface in terms of our potential and as our Hands On community grows larger and we learn and strengthen our “Hands On” model.
Our focus now turns to Project Rayenda in Bangladesh and the next time an opportunity arises for us to help….
Bill Driscoll Jr.
Hands On Disaster Response
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