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News from Chile: Paddling for life is our motto

Thank you to Paula Farias from Chile for this lovely update on what is happening in your country:

“Paddling for life is our motto”.

We are from Chile, our country is rich in a variety of landscapes; we have desert, mountains, sea, lakes and rivers, and some of them are already being painted pink. In 2016, Monica Hernandez, canoeing teacher and coach, with a great sports career representing our country, learned about this modality of paddling in a talk by Dr. Don McKenzie in Brazil, and with the spirit that characterises her to deliver her knowledge to others selflessly began to investigate if this was possible for Chile. Monica was lucky enough to contact the Vice President of the International Canoeing Federation, Cecilia Farias, who opened the doors to begin to perfect herself in Dragon Boat and together with the guidance of Adriana Bartoli began to work on this new project. This is how she founded the first group of paddlers in Chile, Fortale-Senos Chile, with only 3 participants. It was not easy to have new participants, as in our country the sport of Dragon Boat is not well known, and unfortunately still in some medical sectors, there is the idea that after breast cancer it is not advisable to do sport, the doors were closed again and again, but Monica kept looking for us and found us ....

In April 2019, our group grew, we arrived at the Carén Lagoon without nautical knowledge, but with a great desire to practice this sport, and without realizing it, our great rehabilitation began, not only physically, but also of the soul. We started paddling in kayaks and Polynesian canoes, that Monica got every week for our training, we dreamed of a Dragon Boat, but until then it was a very distant dream.

Seeing every day how our group was growing and the benefits we were getting, gave us strength to start knocking on doors again, we needed the Dragon Boat, that's how we reached the Municipality of Lo Barnechea. They supported us from the beginning, we were the beneficiaries of the funds raised in the Annual Run for Early Detection of Breast Cancer, and we were able to buy our desired Dragon Boat for 12 people.

All this enthusiasm was also reflected in another great city in our country, Temuco, in southern Chile, where in parallel, along with Monica Hernandez, who got them a Dragon Boat and coach, formed the second group of paddlers, Fortalesenos Araucania, despite the inclement weather, very cold and rainy, every week they train and have formed a large group of support and awareness in their region, have been invited to give lectures on the benefits of this sport and have participated in many information campaigns.

Even though we are in the same country, we did not know each other and we had the great opportunity to do it in the Latin America in Pink meeting, in Neuquén Argentina in November 2019, for the first time we saw our faces, and with many nerves, but with much pride we formed the team that represented our country, for the first time we also had the opportunity to get on a Dragon Boat for 22 people, and feel the wonderful thing that life offered us!

Today we are others, we are women full of dreams and hope, and this is the message we want to get to all breast cancer survivors in our country, we want to paint Chile pink, we have the great opportunity to show that after something as devastating as cancer, you can continue to live and, in many cases, live much better than before. Our voice is reaching other compatriots, we already have 3 new teams in formation, one in the North of the country, Calama, another in the centre, San Antonio, and the other in the South, Linares. Today we are being heard, we know that there is still a long way to go, but together we will make it possible.

Chilean teams 🇨🇱 Fortale-Senos Chile Fortalesenos Araucania