La Jollan assisting with quake repairs in Chile

By Dave Schwab
Staff Writer

Earthquake relief wasn’t on La Jolla High grad Mike Thompson’s itinerary during his visit to Chile on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, but it has become a central focus of his trip.

As a native Californian, Thompson had experienced his fair share of dish-rattling quakes. But never “the big one.” That came in February, three weeks after he arrived for a yearlong stay at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago.

“It (quake) struck at 3 a.m., and I woke up with my bed headboard battering against the wall,” he said. “The walls waving from side-to-side felt like they were made of paper. A friend of mine who was out in the street at the time said the ground was moving like a wave in the ocean.”

Santiago, the country’s capital where Thompson is living, didn’t experience significant damage. But four hours away, rural areas near the quake’s epicenter were ravaged.

“Immediately after the quake, we worked with disaster relief to bring in food, clothing and water,” Thompson said. “After that, we worked cleaning up the rubble from homes and actually building a few temporary homes out of wood.”

Thompson said out of 55 homes in the rural town of Barba Rubia, only a half-dozen remained habitable after the quake.

“A lot of people there are still homeless essentially,” he said. “Only about half of them have running water. We’re working on a project right now to rebuild their community center and the main school in their whole county that lost more than half of its classrooms.”

Disaster relief has been a mission Thompson has been proud to be a part of and a cause he’s committed to.

“We’re lifting up the community through volunteerism,” he noted. “This community is very isolated, and they receive very little government funding and depend on people like us to help them out.”

Thompson said he can see the “bigger picture,” which is the whole point of getting rural Chilean communities devastated by the quake back on their feet. “If we don’t rebuild the school, students will leave and go to the state capital and probably never come back, and we’ll see small, rural communities disappear,” he said. “It’s a bigger issue, has a bigger meaning, than just helping the needy. It has a larger, socio-cultural impact down the road several generations. That’s why it matters so much to us.”

Graduated from La Jolla High in 2005 and from Washington & Lee University in 2009, Thompson is in Chile on an ambassadorial scholarship, studying international entrepreneurship. The yearlong study abroad scholarship is sponsored by La Jolla Rotary Club.

Eventually, he’d like to start his own company, but in the meantime, he’d like to get a job somewhere in the renewable energy field.

“The new green wave of energy is something we need,” he said. “It’s not going to be our primary source of energy in the next 10 years, but it’s a developing portfolio.”

The group Thompson is working with on earthquake relief for Chile has a $150,000 fundraising goal to meet to rebuild rural schools. Those with questions and/or donations for the effort can e-mail mthompson22@gmail.com.

Related posts:

  1. UCSD professor appointed to state tobacco oversight committee
  2. Scripps professor receives NIH Director's Pioneer Award
  3. Scripps Health starts work on proton therapy center
  4. Neurosciences Institute researcher gets grant to look at decision-making
  5. Philanthropist, heart valve inventor dies

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=947

Posted by Halie Johnson on Aug 21, 2010. Filed under Health & Science, La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Ice Cream Social and benefit at Muttropolis July 22, 2014
    The ninth annual Ice Cream Social for pets and their owners was held at Muttropolis on S. Cedros in Solana Beach […]
  • Del Mar-Solana Beach Optimists welcome July 22, 2014
    The Del Mar-Solana Beach Optimist Club members donned festive racing hats to kick off the season at the club’s July 26 dinner meeting […]
  • ‘Horses in Motion’ reception July 22, 2014
    Nativa Interiors is hosting a six-week art exhibit showcasing the gentle beauty of horses, celebrated with an opening cocktail reception held July 19 at the store’s Solana Beach location. […]