Monday, March 22, 2010

Post Tsunami Stress Disorder

After 14 days of relief work in central Chile's tsunami- and earthquake- devastated coastline, I'm convinced that the worst destruction was emotional. The locals are terrified and heartbroken. The tsunami was devastating both physically and mentally - it makes one feel so powerless. I look at the ocean in a very different way now, constantly judging quick escape routes to higher ground.

The tsunami destruction in Chile is unbelievable - words can't describe it. In some areas, uninterrupted 10-mile stretches of coastline were completely erased. Nothing left behind, not even a building foundation. A 200-mile swath of coastline was badly damaged by the tsunami. And the locals are deeply traumatized. Some of our most meaningful work was the trauma healing done by our team of cranio-sacral therapists, psychologists and osteopaths.

After a week on the ground in Chile, I began to realize that our most meaningful contribution to the relief effort is to give the local people hope, inspiration, and leadership. Shell-shocked coastal residents were powerless in the days after the quake, and if we are able to help lift them up so they can help themselves, then our mission is accomplished. Water filters and medical attention is valuable, but then we leave and they are again left alone. Leaving behind deep wells of hope and positive inspiration is the most valuable of tools.

Learn more about our post-tsunami efforts in Chile and support our efforts:

All photos this post by Lucas Wimer.