Deeply touched by Adriana's fate

by Volker Domres/RBU,  2011/04/09

After his deployment as coordinator in Brazil, Volker Domres has returned to Germany at least physically. In his thoughts, however, he frequently returns to the people he met during his six-week stay in Brazil. To the people whose fates touched Volker deeply. To the people he would like to tell you about.

Wherever the mudslides rolled down the hills, many people lost all their belongings. And even worse: many of them lost beloved family members. Photo: humedica/Irmgard Harms

"I could observe the fates of many families in person and they touched me deeply. During the first few days after the fatal thunderstorm at night, the rain continued pouring down for several more days. When the thunderstorm raged through the region surrounding the cities of Teresopolis and Nova Friburgo, which were affected worst, many hillsides slid down into the valleys, overrunning entire houses and the unsuspecting persons sleeping inside.

When I arrived at the children's village of humedica Brazil, another heavy thunderstorm occurred at night. Late at night, some families sought shelter in the relatively safe buildings of the day care centre. Those seeking shelter were families with little children who lived in the houses built on the landslide-threatened hillsides and had survived the first thunderstorm.

Also those families that had lost their houses during the landslides in January and had found temporary shelter at the children's village assembled in the patio. Among them was a young mother who immediately caught my attention. She was sitting in a wheelchair. Her name was Adriana and she was trembling from head to toe. She was crying. Her husband tried to calm her, but after each thunderbolt Adriana trembled even more and she continued crying silently.

A few weeks ago, Adriana (centre) could only sit in a wheelchair...

When enquiring about her background, I was told that, during the night of disaster, rain and mudslides had also washed her family's house down into the valley. Adriana told me that she held her baby close to her belly and had sought shelter behind a wall of her collapsing house. There she had waited, holding her child close and trying to protect the two of them.

She had remained crouched behind the wall until it had finally given way to the masses of mud and collapsed on Adriana and her baby. Mother and child had been buried by the debris and the mudslide had washed the entire house down into the valley. As by a miracle, all of them had survived this terrible night.

All of them had been rescued, but Adriana had sustained a pelvic fracture when the wall collapsed on her. Just try to imagine the fear that grips the young woman each time a heavy thunderstorm like the one during the disaster goes down on Brazil and she finds herself sitting in a wheelchair without any chance of fleeing on her own!

After Adriana had spent a little more than six weeks in her wheelchair, I finally saw her walking around for the first time in the middle of March. Walking on crutches, she attended a small church service at the premises of humedica Brazil. Shortly before my departure to Germany I met her once more during a relief good distribution.

... in the meantime she is able to walk on her own on crutches - and she has also learned to laugh again. Photo: humedica/Volker Domres

Adriana left her accommodation and climbed up the stairs on her crutches to join us. We all applauded and she even laughed a little. We all hope and pray that Adriana will soon be able to walk again without problems."

Dear friends and sponsors of humedica: it is people like Adriana who benefit from our help. Help we can offer thanks to your support and thanks to the German Federal Foreign Office. On behalf of those in misery, we would like to thank you and ask you to continue supporting us also in future.

      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Landslide Brazil"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also support us by means of making an online donation, or by sending us a text message: send the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and you will be charged 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work.

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