Catastrophes cease to be catastrophes when we partner — Habitat for Humanity, Int’l

Catastrophes cease to be catastrophes when we partner

By Luis Santibañez, national director of Habitat for Humanity Chile

Editor’s note: On Feb. 27, 2010, a magnitude-8.8 earthquake rocked the length of Chile and triggered a tsunami along the country’s coast. One year later, much work remains to help families rebuild their lives and their homes. Below, Luis Santibañez recounts some of the challenges, successes and memorable moments for Habitat Chile in the past year.


Learn more about Habitat Chile’s ongoing campaign to help 10,000 Chilean families recover:

Chile Earthquake: One Year Later (4MB .pdf)


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The first, most significant challenge was that our national office in Santiago had also been affected by the earthquake. Thankfully, we had the capacity to return to work in three days.

Everything that we had built in the seven years prior to the quake had remained intact. Not a single Habitat house was affected.

Despite the fact that we had little experience in responding to disaster situations, we have been able to overcome the challenges and move forward.

We still do not have all of the means of implementation that we would like to. But we have to learn from this experience, note the pros and the cons and continue to improve the way we work.

There was a Habitat Chile before Feb. 27, 2010, but the earthquake changed everything. None of us are the same. We have to unite together and continue working because there are still thousands of people awaiting a response.

One story that has stuck with me is that of Pincheira, a Habitat construction worker. He lost his father in the tsunami. He had to travel home to identify the body and make funeral arrangements. Within a few days he was back, asking how he could help. Always with a smile and a total willingness to assist the other affected families.

It is these types of people who provide a voice of hope.

Later, when I met with the mayor of Curepto, he was seated at his desk and said to me, “You cannot imagine the number of people who initially came to offer their help. But no one has stayed.” So I responded, “Habitat is here to stay.” He rose, said, “Thank you. Let’s get to work.” And we embraced.

We need partners. Catastrophes cease to be catastrophes when we partner. The greatest catastrophe is to forget those in need. Those who are able need to continue to help and not forget us.


Just a Afternoon Rant.

Social Security Poster: old man

Change is something that no matter how hard you try you can only slow down but not totally avoid. This is being discovered on many levels by citizens and governments across the globe. Some change is good and some change is negative or retroactive, though no change is avoidable the end destination of change can be redirected. Even change that has been orchestrated runs its own course and usually will never come out exactly as planed.

So now the middle east and north African countries are going through a political change that has yet to reach its end. It will be many years after the dust settles before the end results will be known. The only thing predictable about the circumstances the world is facing in this unrest is that more than likely that no one will head the warnings of being dependent on oil and not having a fair economical and civilian minded government. It will shock me immensely if any Oil consuming nation and their government even thinks twice about getting off the oil addiction. It will shock me even more if any nation ever puts the citizens before the government officials or the big businesses.

I have a lot of faith in mankind just not very much in the select few who rule by government or from their corporate towers. They have all the money and power and they surely don’t want to share it or even allow others to reach their status level because less competition equals more control and wealth. To be fair there has to be some in government and in big business that do care and try to do good with what they have, Just seems there is more of them that are greedy and power hungry than compassionate and humane. So being out numbered by their peers they have a lot to overcome to make any difference in the world.

I just think it is time for businesses to get their act together and realize crude oil is eventually either going to run out or become too costly to sustain any industry that requires it to operate. I also think it is time for governments to see that the citizens are the ones paying their paychecks and taking care of all the bills / loan payments the government has. So if you don’t keep the working man and the consumers employed, healthy and somewhat happy that the economy is going to either become stagnant or head into a downward spiral.

Invest in small business and help the innovative people of your nation so new technologies and new sources of income can be created. Keep them healthy so they can be productive and keep the economy strong and for gods sake listen to the public, they are getting tired of their words falling on deaf ears. And here in the U.S. the political parties need to grow up and get over their differences and be grown up enough to face and tackle the problems facing the country from the federal government down to the back streets of America.

And for as the national debt is concerned, Stop borrowing money as much, cut foreign aid a bit and maybe take a pay cut up their in congress. Most Americans are forced to survive on 20k if not less and rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year. Far as Social security, leave it alone for most of us middle class and below the social security benefits is all we have to retire on and due to the cost of healthcare most of us wont be able to live to see much past 60 years of age.

O.K. Enough Ranting for now,


Ray Barbier

Early Morning Gibberish


  Every day I get closer and closer to the end of my life’s path, Many ups and downs along with quite a few round and rounds. Many days and nights in search of the right way to go and trying to find meaning and purpose in my life. Too many miles walked trying to satisfy others and in trying to belong or to be accepted. Lessons learned and lessons forgot along the edge of my life’s path and yet I still learn something new with each step I take. To belong or to be accepted would be nice but is not necessary for I chose to walk my own path and dance to my own beat.

  The last miles of my path will be walked as my true self and without fear of judgment and or social acceptance. Love me, Like me or even despise me if you wish for I am who I am and that I can not change.

Know thyself, Be thyself and always be true to Thyself.


Raymond Barbier

No country is immune to the divide

Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, (English and...

Across the globe citizens of all walks of life are protesting and rioting against governments that are now learning the lessons of not listening to their citizens. Imbalance of power, wealth and education is creating a wave of anti government sentiment and actions. In the U.S. the Unions and workers of many states are in a battle for their rights to have a good wage and decent retirement / Insurance coverage. The citizens of the middle eastern countries and north Africa are fighting for basic human rights. All of this is due to the greed and the inability of governments to listen to the wants and needs of their citizens.

I find it quite sad it takes such protests and riots to enact change in countries and governments of the modern world. Maybe some good will come out of all of this unrest and un needed killing in countries such as Libya. Maybe, just maybe other countries and their governments will learn to listen to the public and be more concerned about their needs and wants. Possibly they may even see the great gap in the wealth and health issues within their own borders and try and find a way to make it a bit more fair and balanced.

No country is immune to the divide between the economic classes, some countries have a larger gap than others and this will eventually create either unrest or a economical downward spiral for those countries. The working class is the one that both helps create/provides goods and is the major consumer of such goods/services. Neglect that class and allow them to become impoverished both financially and in education then you will see a economical disaster in the making.

Another lesson that the world may learn is that we really need to move away from the dependence on oil as our main source of fuel. The unrest in the middle east has already increased the cost of oil per barrel to over 100 U.S. dollars and has effected the stock markets across the globe. An oil based economy like what most of the world is connected to is not a very stable one due to the increase of demand and the dwindling oil supplies and reserves across the globe.

To those in Libya, Egypt and the rest of the countries in the Middle East / North Africa I send my best wishes and my condolences for the lives lost in the revolutions/protests.

Peace is the path seldom walked.
Raymond Barbier

How Habitat came to be part of the Stone Soup comic strip — Habitat for Humanity, Int’l

How Habitat came to be part of the Stone Soup comic strip

By Jan Eliot
Stone Soup



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Since its debut in 1995, my comic strip Stone Soup has grown from 25 newspapers in the U.S. to 250 around the world. When I started the strip, I was a working mother looking for a way to support her kids from home.

Eventually I found myself standing in my studio amazed to see what has come from that dream. A sustainable career doing something I love. Daughters who’ve gone to college and now have families of their own.

Folksinger Susan Werner wrote a song with the line “I’ve got plenty and then some…what shall I do?” As Stone Soup became more successful, I began to wonder if there was a way I could use its success for a higher purpose.

My job is to entertain, but my public position in newspapers is an irresistible soapbox. While it’s definitely not my job to preach, I can certainly create a world within Stone Soup that reflects what I’d like our real world to be: fair, feminist, compassionate, charitable, among other things.

The Stone Soup family includes a middle-school character, Holly. She’s 13 and often fairly self-centered. Once in a while I get irritated with her and decide to create an opportunity for her to stretch and grow. A little awareness of the plight of others is a good thing to give someone who is overly concerned with her own reflection and the contents of her closet.

It was this thinking that led me to send Holly and her sister Alix on a spring-break trip to Southern California. Once there, they discover that it’s not the beach vacation they envisioned. They’ve been conscripted to help on a build. (I know that kids can’t work on build sites, but it’s a comic strip, and I had a point to make.)

Her first day on site, a disgruntled Holly meets another young team member and asks why she’s “Happy to waste a vacation building a charity house for some loser family?” When I first wrote that line, I was afraid it was too harsh. But this was Holly’s opportunity for a lesson, and she soon discovers that the girl is part of the “loser” family. Oops. And while you might chalk that line up to 13-year-old self-importance, there are adults in the world who have on occasion had that very thought.

By the end of the week, Holly is changed forever by her experience and utters the phrase, “Who knew blisters could feel so good?” My sentiments exactly. Every experience I’ve had with Habitat (still too few, more to come) leaves me feeling this way.

Since Holly and Alix Stone’s experience with Habitat, their Gramma Evie has helped build in Uganda and Thailand. I was lucky enough to accompany her there — participating in Habitat’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Chiang Mai was an experience I’ll never forget. Two thousand volunteers from all over the world, the wonderful families we were building in partnership with, our amazing Thai hosts, a full neighborhood springing up from bare land.

“Stone soup” is a hearty dish somehow conjured from stones and water. The magic ingredient? Community. To me, that sounds just like Habitat for Humanity.

Just another Rant on 2/20/2011

The riots across the middle east has been a very hot topic in the news and on the internet. The want for the freedom and living a happy life and having some sort of a economically stable future seems to be a common desire amongst all humans. The imbalance of wealth and power also is a common thread in almost if not all nations of the modern world we live in. This lack of balance will create social anxieties along with political unrest if it isn’t somewhat balanced out in the future. The fact is most people just want to have enough money to live comfortable and never be in need. The governments and big business needs to see that their greed and lust for power is going to be their downfall in the future. The common man is not as docile or as ignorant to the facts as they may believe. This we have witnessed in Egypt and other nations in the middle east. Even here in the United States the state of Wisconsin is now have political problems due to a state budget that takes away rights and benefits from the working man.

When will governments and big businesses learn that it’s the middle class and lower class that is the workforce and the main consumer of their goods and services. More or less it’s the common man that pays all their bills and helps them amass their great fortunes. Don’t keep the common man happy and the foundation of the economy will crumble as seen here in the united states in the last decade or so. I wish the protesters across the globe good luck and may you survive it all in the end.

One last note, you ever notice how quick the U.S. government is in taking away from the public but slow to cut their own salaries or benefits to help reduce the deficit? Maybe if they worked for minimum wage and had to pay for their own health care without any government subsidies then we could reduce some of the national debt.


Ray Barbier

Sometimes, I know and Live in

017-2Sometimes I look too long at the prize I seem to become blind to the blessings already here.
Sometimes I fear what I can not control so much I lose perspective and lose my way.
Sometimes I live too much in the past and wind up neglecting things in the present that I hold dear.
Sometimes I let my mind wander in dreams so much I dream away most of the day.

I know that the blessings I have are worth cherishing and I try to be thankful for them all.
I know most things that I fear are nothing but a negative view created by my own mind.
I know we can learn from the past but we should live in the present and answer its call.
I know dreams are good and help one work out ideas but there is reality one must find.

Live in the moment and for the day but always keep your eyes on what the future may bring.
Live in caution but with no fear of what could be and make the best of what life brings your way.
Live in the here and now while remembering  memories that makes your heart want to sing.
Live in reality while holding on to the dreams that help you get through each and every day.


Enough Rambling for now

Ray Barbier