2024-05-11 BRAZIL

Communiqué from the Provincial of Brasil Sul-Amazônia on the floods in Brazil

Read update in Portuguese

Porto Alegre, May 11, 2024.

“We can also feel God in the testimony of those who are committed to peace,
justice and solidarity with the poor, and who act generously
in favor of others and sacrifice themselves for them” (Water From the Rock, n. 53).

Dear Marist Family,

I hope this message finds you well. Unfortunately, in Rio Grande do Sul, we are still facing a state of calamity. Many people are unable to return to their homes due to the flooding. We hope that the waters will recede soon, allowing the reconstruction process to begin. Landslides and mudslides have occurred in some areas, leaving more than 300,000 people homeless. So far, 136 deaths have been confirmed, and 125 people are still missing (for more details, please refer to the link provided).

In Porto Alegre, the waters are slowly receding, but recent rainfall has brought new challenges. Some areas still lack drinking water, and inner districts remain flooded. Cities in the metropolitan region are also affected. Public authorities and civil society are working together to rebuild connections between isolated towns, ensuring the delivery of essential supplies like food, water, and medicine.

Our Hospital de São Lucas (HSL) has admitted over 50 patients from a nearby flooded hospital. We are ensuring that healthcare needs are met by organizing the delivery of medicines and supplies. Vila Marista in Viamão is providing drinking water to surrounding villages, which wasn’t previously communicated. According to the residents, many people in this area are relying  on this water source.

Some of our buildings are currently housing around a thousand people. They are functioning well, providing sleeping, sanitation, recreational, prayer, and dining facilities, managed by our members and volunteers. Despite challenges, daily life resembles that of a large community, albeit with inherent conflicts and problems.

Educational and recreational activities for children are prioritized, including art, games, and other activities. Some places have prayer centers for emotional support, while others offer leisure and sports opportunities, all aimed at alleviating pain and consequences. Some are preparing tributes for Mother’s Day to honor this significant day.

Every day, I visit our shelters and hear heartbreaking stories. Despite the adversity, there’s an inner strength that motivates us to keep hope alive. Our faith gives us the strength to act.

Several of our facilities have been completely washed away by the water, including Guardería Marista Tia Jussara, Centro Social Marista N. Sra. Aparecida das Águas, and Comunidad Marista de las Islas in Ilha Grande dos Marinheiros, Guardería Marista Menino Jesus and Centro Social Marista Ir. Antonio Bortolini in Loteamento Santa Teresinha, and Escuela in Vila Farrapos. These are areas on the outskirts of Porto Alegre that are totally affected. Additionally, the first floor of Colégio Marista São Pedro in the Floresta district is flooded. This situation is expected to change slowly.

Donations from across Brazil and other countries are crucial, but we’ll need more resources to rebuild. Many communities have been destroyed, most of them socially vulnerable. Public authorities have indicated that some areas will need to be rebuilt due to recurring flooding. We must remain vigilant and collaborate in the post-flood reconstruction efforts.

Despite the challenges, we continue to press on, encouraged by the prayers and solidarity of many people, including Marists from around the world.

May Mary help us find hope and consolation in these difficult times, and may Saint Marcellin inspire us to alleviate the suffering of all affected individuals, regardless of age.

May the Lord shower his abundant blessing on everyone.

With my fraternal embrace,

Brother Deivis Alexandre Fischer Provincial Brasil Sul-Amazônia

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