Established in Santiago, Chile in 2002, the Foundation for Educational, Social and Economic Development (FEDES – Fundación Educativa de Desarrollo Economico y Social) was created to build stronger communities through social and economic development, and to improve the lives of disadvantaged and disabled Chileans.
The foundation’s principal development programs focus on long-term solutions to poverty and unemployment, but FEDES also responds to the immediate and on-going medical needs of at-risk and vulnerable children, adults, families, and communities through disaster response activities and support for struggling public healthcare facilities.
FEDES initially developed their disaster relief program in response to devastating floods that hit central and southern Chile in 2002. The program was utilized again in the aftermath of the 8.8 earthquake that struck off the coast of central Chile five years ago, on February 27, 2010.
In addition to the earthquake-related loss of life, injuries, and damage to homes and infrastructure, the massive quake also created a tsunami that devastated coastal towns in the south-central part of the country.
It was in response to this natural disaster that Direct Relief began to work with FEDES, providing multiple emergency shipments and a cash grant that assisted with the rebuilding of damaged medical clinics.
Like many other partnerships initially established to respond to an emergency situation, the collaboration between Direct Relief and FEDES continued after relief and recovery efforts were completed.
Direct Relief then began providing ongoing shipments of medical and nutritional products to FEDES for distribution to public hospitals and clinics that care for the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations in the country.
“Infinite thanks for all Direct Relief does to change lives, you have made a big difference in the lives of many poor people in Chile, God bless you, FEDES could never thank you enough.” – Steven Colon, Founder of FEDES.
A portion of the Direct Relief shipments provided to FEDES are distributed to primary and secondary health care clinics in urban districts with high indicators of poverty and vulnerability. Working closely with the Chilean Ministry of Health and local authorities, FEDES administers a special community development program in the Santiago municipalities of Lo Espejo and San Bernardo.
Improving housing conditions, opening vocational schools, training public school teachers, increasing employment opportunities, supplying local healthcare facilities with needed medical and nutritional products, and building volunteer networks to assist people with disabilities are some of the many ways that FEDES is working to improve the lives of people in need.
In 2014, Direct Relief shipped three containers of medical supplies and nutritional products to FEDES for distribution to hospitals and clinics facing severe product shortages. Donated items included oral electrolyte solutions, nutritional supplements, first aid and surgical items, respiratory and urinary supplies, autoclaves, IV stands, and mobility aids such as canes, crutches, and walkers.