When it comes to natural disasters, it’s deeply heartening to see people rally behind a cause that can help so many victims put their lives back together. After Haiti, the key U.S. wireless carriers offered their support by taking text message donations.
Now, after the tragic earthquake that racked Chile recently, aid organizations are taking their cues from that example by enabling donations via text. To make it easier for users to give, they’ve secured text/SMS codes that will work across all four of the major carriers. To contribute, simply text the word “Chile” to one or more of the following numbers:
On a personal note…
I was heartbroken to learn of the devastation in Chile. (When I was a college student studying abroad, Santiago was my home for a year, and I’d spent some time traveling the long narrow country from the Atacama desert in the north to the lake region in the south.)
The country and its people have had to struggle through so much in the past few decades, including a military coup and years of political turmoil that resulted in thousands of people disappearing (los desaparecidos) and the torture of literally tens of thousands at the hands of dictator Agosto Pinochet. To this day, many of Chile’s citizens remember the fear and bloodshed of those years, or mourn the loss of loved ones whose ultimate fates were never known.
Since Pinochet’s death three years ago, some of these people have finally managed to put the past behind them — only to now deal with a new national tragedy. This was reportedly one of the strongest recorded earthquakes that ever rocked the country — at an 8.8 magnitude — and it hit the coastal region early Saturday (at 2:34 am).
Initial reports ranged from 200 to 300 lives lost, but now the latest body count has already topped more than 700 people. (Some expect this number to climb further still, as emergency rescue efforts ramp up.) For now, there are still reportedly towns that cannot yet receive aid, and desperate people have resorted to looting and pillaging to survive. Roughly 500,000 houses have been damaged, and according to President Michele Bachelet, there is a dire need for field hospitals and temporary bridges, water purification plants and damage assessment experts, not to mention rescue workers. Those who have already hit the ground have been working feverishly to locate survivors.
It feels so surreal to see my old “second home” torn to pieces like this. The only saving grace in all this is seeing how, despite the antagonistic commercials and business dealings, the major wireless carriers can band together so quickly to support the aid organizations, and give users an easy, efficient way to offer donations. Although I’m wondering and worrying about old friends I’ve lost touch with, there’s at least some comfort in being able to text what help I can — sort of like shooting an SMS that cuts through time and distance — all the way from here, in New England. Those of you who can, I hope you do the same.
UPDATE: I received a press release this morning with more info on donating in the U.S. and Canada:
...By texting a keyword to a designated short code via a mobile phone, a micro-donation of $5 or $10 can be made to aid the people affected by this tragedy. 100% of your donation goes to the recipient charity, and the donation appears as a charge on your carrier bill, standard rates may apply.
Text the word "CHILE" to 20222 to donate $10, On behalf of World Vision
Text the word "CHILE" to 52000 to donate $10, On behalf of the Salvation Army
Text the word "CHILE" to 45678 to donate $5 (In Canada Only in English), On behalf of UNICEF Canada
Text the word "CHILI" to 45678 to donate $5 (In Canada Only in French), On behalf of UNICEF Canada
Text the word "SAVE" to 20222 to donate $10, On behalf of Save the Children Federation, Inc.
Text the word "CHILE" to 85944 to donate $10, On behalf of International Medical Corp.
Text the word "4CHILE" to 50555 to donate $10, On behalf of Convoy of Hope
Text the word "CHILE" to 50555 to donate $10, On behalf of Friends of the World Program
Text the word "REBUILD" to 50555 to donate $10, On behalf of Friends of the Operation USA
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are providing free text messages in support of this effort.
For more information on these various campaigns, a list of approved Application Service Providers and how mobile giving works, visit www.mobilegiving.org.