In late 1957, 3,000 families were squatting on a plot of land in La Victoria (an area of Santiago) on which they had built humble huts.
Students dedicated their free time to helping them and ran cultural activities for the young people. Some of them then settled in the neighbourhood and set up a social action community known as Las Urracas (The Magpies). In 1959, they were paid a visit by Abbé Pierre and then sent two of their members, Pepe Aravena and Oscar Pregnán, to France to find out about the life and work of the rag pickers. On their return in 1961, they took the Emmaus name and started rag picking. Pepe Aravena was one of the five members of the temporary board that arranged the first Emmaus International general assembly in 1969 with Abbé Pierre.