Building a dream in the eyes of children
An earthquake brings together the lives of Sika Chile employees and the children of a nearby shelter. This is their story, as told by one of the protagonists.
This story did not begin well, but just like a fairy tale, it did have a happy ending. After the horrendous earthquake that hit Chile on 27 February 2010, seriously damaging the Coanil Foundation’s Juan XXIII residential shelter, Sika Chile and the Romuald Burkard Foundation were stirred into action to help the children affected.
Reconstructing damaged schools
In the aftermath of the quake, Sika Chile began looking into ways to assist the victims.
Head Office gave the green light to a request to reconstruct damaged schools. However, there was one condition to meet: the building could not be more than 200 km from our offices.
After an intense search, we chose to help children from the Juan XXIII shelter run by the Coanil Foundation. Located in the town of Buin in the Metropolitan region, the shelter accommodates over 60 mentally disabled children.
“When performing an assessment, we realized that the main damage had been to the house. So, we decided as a first stage to reconstruct rooms module-wise. In a second stage, we restored the school, and in a third stage, we developed a permanent activity area to bring the children into contact with nature and teach them about sustainability and ecology”, explained Francisco Jimenez, General Manager of Sika Chile.
Getting down to work
Reconstructing the house was no easy task, as the idea was not to construct a single house as such, but eight independent cabins with suitable amenities to meet the youngsters’ needs. We also repaired communal areas and added new facilities, including a laundry and a dining room. This was a major project.
It took months of hard work. The children deserved the best and they deserved to get it as soon as possible. As the project progressed, the bonds between Sika and Coanil grew stronger; many of Sika Chile’s employees got involved in the Foundation’s work.
Building a better quality of life
“We were moved by the children’s plight and wanted to do more than just reconstruct their shelter, we wanted to be part of reconstructing their dreams of a better quality of life.
So apart from working on the actual rebuilding project, many of the people in our team became interested in helping in other ways too, such as visiting children on Christmas Eve to put a smile on their faces and give them a nice time” said Danilo Leon, Human Resources Manager at Sika Chile.
And finally 7 December 2011 arrived, the day of the opening of the new facilities at the Juan XXIII shelter. Representatives of various charitable organizations, the local authorities and, of course, numerous people from our team turned out. But beyond a doubt, the children from the shelter were happiest playing and running from one place to another, smiling: that was our biggest reward.
A never-ending project
After opening the cabins and the common areas, we began constructing a greenhouse.
“The children’s tutors had told us that harvesting and gardening had therapeutic benefits and that this greenhouse was a dream come true” Danilo Leon added.
This was a great motivator, and at long last we were able to hand over a lovely greenhouse – a seedbed of hopes for these children, who, after all the difficulties they had faced along their lives, today have a place that they can literally call home.
However, our task is not over; the bond we created cannot be broken. We remain in contact with the members of this shelter and, of course, continue to devote all our energy to providing support. For instance, we helped to make a trip to the beach possible, and we also supply basic daily essentials.
In short, this is a never-ending project. We are committed not only to delivering solutions as and when called for, but also to creating ties with the children, children that need us and who we want to be there for at all times.