The Atacama Commitment Breaks New Ground to Alleviate Poverty in Chile’s Atacama Region

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The Atacama Commitment Breaks New Ground to Alleviate Poverty in Chile’s Atacama Region

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Summary

The Atacama Region of northern Chile is home to some of the country’s poorest communities. Barrick’s goal is to make a sustainable difference for people in this region, where the company’s Pascua-Lama and Cerro Casale mine projects are located.

Thursday, October 20, 2011 - 10:14am

CONTENT: Blog

In the hardscrabble Copiapo neighborhood where Karla Rojas Morales and her neighbors live in the north of Chile, known locally as a campamento, the vista is bleak. But the outlook is promising for Morales and her family. She has managed, through diligence and hard work, to find a good job and pursue higher education. And soon, she and her family will take advantage of a new housing initiative that will see them leave the slums behind for good. 

The single mother of a six-year-old daughter, 25-year-old Morales has worked hard at rising from the poverty that surrounds her. She and her neighbors will soon be moving into brand-new townhouses, built as part of the Atacama Commitment, an innovative partnership between Barrick and a group of Chilean NGOs and governmental agencies.
 
Morales’ days begin at 6:40 a.m. and often end at midnight, when she walks home from university classes. Morales is in her second year of business administration studies, hoping to major in finance. In between, she gets her daughter to school and has a full-time job as an agricultural technician. For a long time, she was too embarrassed to tell colleagues and coworkers where she lived because many people associate the campamentos with drugs and organized crime.
 
She says, “It is difficult to live in these dwellings because of lawlessness and the mentality of some people, who have lived in poverty for decades, sometimes for generations.” She describes scenes of domestic violence, drug problems, and people who have simply given up their dreams.
Morales recalls that during her childhood, her mother Claudia was sometimes penniless and wandered the streets, at one point living under a bridge. Now she is Claudia’s greatest champion. “It is important to us that I have earned a technical degree, thanks to the perseverance and support provided by my mother, who is a very determined woman,” Morales says. “She takes care of my child while I study and work. She helps me in everything, even supporting me financially with the very modest money she makes. She has been critical to me and I have not quit my studies because of her.”
 
Morales adds, “It is extremely hard for young and working mothers, as it is difficult to be with our children, because you are trying to move ahead and leave these living conditions, but you do not have time for them.”
 
She and her family, which includes five siblings, have lived in a tumbledown dwelling in Copiapo for 10 years. They are part of a group of 700 families who will move into new housing as part of the “Renacer” or “rebirth” program sponsored by Chile’s Ministry of Housing, A Roof for Chile (Un Techo para Chile), and Barrick.
 
The desire to eliminate the hazardous conditions associated with the Copiapo slums is a large part of the rationale for the housing component of the Atacama Commitment, moving families living in poverty to new homes in safer neighborhoods. Announced in late 2008, the Atacama Commitment is a unique alliance with eight Chilean NGOs, the UN Global Compact and government partners. The Atacama Region of northern Chile is home to some of the country’s poorest communities. Barrick’s goal is to make a sustainable difference for people in this region, where the company’s Pascua-Lama and Cerro Casale projects are located.
 
 
About Barrick
Barrick Gold Corporation is a Toronto-based gold mining company and industry leader, with a portfolio of 26 operating mines, and projects on five continents. Barrick trades on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges and employs 25,000 people worldwide. In 2010, Barrick’s global economic contribution to the local, regional and national economies of its host countries totaled approximately $9.7 billion. The company has been ranked as a world leader in social and environmental responsibility for the fourth consecutive year by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Barrick is also listed on the NASDAQ Global Sustainability Index of the top 100 companies.
 
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Contact

Barrick Gold Corporation
http://www.barrick.com
Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | Chile | Gold | Mining | barrick | cerro casale | pascua-lama

CONTENT: Blog