Help Arrives as the Waters Rise
Disoriented and traumatized, families carried what they could in their arms, trying to save their belongings. Volunteers from the local Compassion center were the first to arrive on scene and provide relief to families, even before the local authorities.
“We volunteers and the church pastor arrived at the community with a car to help families save their belongings," says Marilia, the center’s director. "The families were desperate. We got into the water, which was rising quickly, and helped carry everything we could. At the water level, it was possible to see snakes and other animals passing by. But the families helped each other, and we were able to support both the center families and other families in the community. When we left the community, the water was up to our waists.”
When local government support arrived, the center staff worked with them to provide shelter and basic supplies to the families. Many families went to relatives’ houses or to public shelters. With limited resources, local authorities focused on helping other families who lacked any support, and the Compassion center assisted center families who were helpless.
“About 20 families from the center were left homeless. Some we hosted here in the building; others went to relatives’ houses; for others, we rented a house until they could return home,” says Marilia.
This local church is a hub of support for families — especially in times of great need. Since the center volunteers from the church knew the families well and had strong community connections, they helped distribute resources made available by the city hall. Items such as diapers and milk for children weren’t provided by the government, so they were purchased with Compassion funds.
Places of Refuge and Health
Mycaella’s and Alicia’s families had nowhere to stay, so they were among those who received full support from the center.
Mycaella’s family was sheltered in a government school where they stayed for a few weeks. But when classes resumed, school officials said that families would have to leave the site. The city hall provided a house for them, but it didn’t have a bathroom, and its water supply was hazardous. Fortunately, center staff stepped in to provide a more suitable home for the family.
“When they [school officials] told me that we would have to leave school, I was desperate. We had nowhere to go! We didn’t have money to pay rent. If the center staff hadn’t helped us, I don’t know what we would have done. They were always attentive with us. More than material resources, their visits always helped me not to lose faith. I felt loved and cared for,” says Zildete.