THIS INITIATIVE started in 2011 with the visit of Harvard University’s president, Dr. Drew Faust and the crucial collaboration of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) in Santiago. The DRCLAS Regional Office team conducted meetings with Chilean colleagues as part of the recovery planning process and determined that Recupera Chile could best serve by focusing efforts on three hard-hit coastal communities. In January, 2012, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Doug Ahlers then led a two-week intensive consulting project by three Harvard Kennedy School teams as well as faculty members from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Medical School. These teams worked with the communities to create an economic development plan and to present business plans for government funding. In addition, they collaborated on planning for building and social service projects as an integrated disaster recovery strategy.
TAKING ACTION AFTER THE DISASTER
In February 2010, an 8.8 earthquake and tsunami hit off the central coast of Chile affecting 25% of the national population. To date it is the sixth largest in recorded history.
Despite months and then years of local and national government assistance, as late as spring of 2013, several Chileans were still living in displaced housing with little hope of their former lives on the horizon. The Harvard academic community had many connections to Chile before the earthquake and felt the need to reach out to the communities still languishing from this horrific event, thus the collaborative program of Recupera Chile was created.
Recupera Chile embodies Harvard collaboration because from its beginning it has brought together faculty and staff from the Harvard Kennedy School, Business School, Medical School, Graduate School of Education, School of Design, and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) Regional Office in Santiago. Since early 2012, this Harvard multidisciplinary effort has collaborated with Chilean academic, non-profit, and private and public sector organizations to bring about effective change from within the affected communities so that all projects and initiatives can be self-sustainable.
Recupera Chile offers a range of services for the economic, social, health, and sociological recovery that focus on three Chilean towns: Cobquecura, Perales and Dichato. Since 2014 Recupera Chile has expanded its work to the Biobío coast with Sea Farmers initiative.
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