The powerful rains that fell during December (2021) impacted the people living in the states of Minas Gerais and Behía (Brazil). Thousands of people were left homeless as a result of the floods. During that time and the months that followed, members of the Society of Saint Vincent from throughout the country responded to the call from the National Council. They provided assistance to the victims of this disaster and created a true chain of charity as they donated food, clothing, money, etc. Months later, the members of the Society, with their characteristic vision of love, discovered that the problem was much deeper, way beyond the ordinary emergency relief: people needed to reconstruct their lives and their homes … and with the coordination of the National Council of Brazil and the Central Council of Nanuque, this is now being done.
Roger Rodrigues Pereira, president of the Central Council of Nanuque stated: The emergency help provided immediate relief but in the southern part of Bahía and Minas Gerais, families were left homeless (emotionally and materially destroyed). The Central Council, together with members from many conferences were divided into work groups. They went to Nova Alegria in the municipality of Itamaraju, Bahía where 90% of the homes were submerged in water. I spoke with our president, Márcio, and he understood the problem and as a result we initiated a campaign to collect money in order to rebuild and houses of the families who lost everything. We listened to the cries for help from these people. We were touched by their voices and we were able to mobilize the members from throughout Brazil in a wonderful campaign.
After a field visit to various cities, the Rodrigo-led team selected 109 houses in southern Bahia and the Mucuri/MG Valley where they began work. Rodrigo stated: With the amount raised in the CNB campaign, approximately US $ 67,500, we were able to buy the construction materials and the work began. 38 houses are finished, and families have been able to return to their homes with dignity. Our initial findings reveal a very large number of families in need … therefore, in light of our limitations, we have to choose the most urgent cases.
One of these families is Gildeci Vieira da Silva, a 50-year-old housewife, and her mother, Jessi Gomes da Silva, 95. Both are residents of Jucuruçu, in Bahia, and their houses were destroyed by the heavy rains that fell in December of last year. Gidelci, affectionately called Tinga, says her house was simple, built with adobe bricks (made of mud, straw and water, without cement ), with one bedroom, kitchen and porch but no bathrooms. She used the bathroom in her mother’s house, who lived next door to her.
Gildeci recalls: My house was flooded. Since the construction was from “adobrão” (local term for houses made of adobe bricks), it collapsed. My mother’s house was even worse. The water took everything. The only thing left was the bathroom and the kitchen. It had two rooms, a gallery and a pantry. Everything went with the water, it totally collapsed. We lost furniture, clothes, mattresses. We had to live in other people’s houses. I help at home, I have health problems and I cannot work. I am a widow and I have a 23 year old son who lives with me. It’s just us. So I got into debt to buy bricks and other materials. I called a bricklayer and began to rebuild the houses.
During the process of rebuilding Tinga’s house, the Vincentians arrived in Jucuruçu. Todrigo, who had received assistance from Father Gilson Ferreira Correia, stated: We knew her story as well as the story of her mother and decided to help. We paid the debt at the construction materials store and bought various items for the reconstruction of the mother’s house. One family, two houses. Two rebuilt dreams … and there is no amount of money that can pay for those dreams.
Tinga says: If I had to buy everything, the debt I had contracted would only increase. I am very grateful, first to God and then to the Vincentians, who came to see how we were doing. They are wonderful people who held out their hands, thank you very much!
In the photos above: Tinga’s house and her mother’s house during the time of the flood, after the flood, and her new home.
Another family helped by the network of charity chain was Daniela Ribeiro Andrade who resided in Carlos Chagas/MG. At 26, Daniela and her four children were already receiving help from the Nanuque Central Council. The rains at the end of last year destroyed the only room where she and her family lived. After the floods, the Vincentians got down to work and in addition to starting the construction of a house on Daniela’s family plot, they bought clothes, mattresses, appliances, and other essential items for the family. During this first stage, her house is one of five that the Society will completely rebuild.
She stated: I share the house with my brothers. I stay in a room with the children and the bathroom is outside. Now I will have my own house, with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. If it weren’t for the members of the Society, I couldn’t do it. I already needed the basic food basket. My cousin is a bricklayer and is helping to build with the materials that the Vincentians buy. It means everything to me. My dream is to provide better living conditions and privacy to my children This house is the greatest happiness and joy in my life.
According to Rodrigo, a campaign is being carried out to continue raising money to buy new materials for Daniela’s house.
Daniela will have a house with a bathroom, kitchen, living room and bedrooms …. she will be able to provide a more dignified life to her four children.
Márcio José da Silva, president of the Brazilian National Council, states: This is the charism of the SSVP, of the Vincentians. To come to the aid of the poor, to provide not only emergency food, but to give a more dignified life to our Lords and Masters. For this reason, upon learning of the reports of the Rodrigo, the CNB welcomed the idea and the campaign. We have to go much further … we have to go deeper into the water and that means helping in ways other than just the food basket. We are literally rebuilding dreams and families.