Many are under shock, traumatised or desperate

by Daria Napieraj, 2011/03/05

At the beginning of this year, 27 year-old Nathalie Nowak took part in a humedica mission in Brazil. For a period of two weeks, the German social pedagogue worked at the humedica children's village in the vicinity of Nova Friburgo in the framework of disaster and landslide relief projects. Since she has been living in Portugal for several years, she was not only a great support thanks to her professional expertise, but also thanks to her language skills.

A scenario of destruction in the immediate surroundings of the children's village. Photo: humedica/Nathalie Nowak

"When I arrived in the disaster region, my working field in the mission was not yet clearly defined, as I am not active in the field of medicine, as the other mission team members, but in the field of social welfare", said Nathalie Nowak about the beginning of her honorary mission.

There was no lack of persons who needed help at the project location, since the disaster had strongly affected numerous people both directly and indirectly. Many are under shock, traumatised or desperate. They are trying to find a new sense of life. "It was difficult for me to cut down the number of people I could support directly to a limited number", told the social pedagogue.

Among others, the honorary assistant from Portugal took intensive care of a family that had been accommodated at the children's village. Their house and all their belongings had been buried by a mudslide. "As by a miracle, all family members had survived. But nevertheless, they had been deprived of their old life, and now they have to struggle to build up a new life, in which their positions as individuals, family members and community members still need to be re-established once more."

Nathalie Nowak with children from the humedica children's village Photo: humedica

She also took care of a little girl called Vitoria. The girl's mother asked Nathalie for help, because, after the loss of their house, Vitoria could not be moved to return to the house of her grandmother. But it was the only house in the whole residential quarter that had not been destroyed. "In the second week I achieved some success: Vitoria worked up the courage to enter her grandmother's house by day, and I am almost sure that in the meantime she has also spent a night there", said 27 year-old Nathalie.

The social pedagogue not only helped the people to overcome their terrible experiences by means of intensive conversations, but often she also accompanied the affected persons to the place where their houses had once stood. This was very important, since above all the children had often repressed the memories of the disaster.

We have often heard about honorary employees of humedica who commit themselves so strongly to their work that in the end it is difficult for them to leave the project once more. This was also the case with Nathalie Nowak. "It was fantastic to see how my work started to bear fruit and how the people I worked with slowly made some progress. And above all, they had all become very dear to me." This sentiment was also shared by the persons who had received help by Nathalie and other humedica mission team members.

Nathalie not only takes many new experiences and memories back with her to Portugal, but also two letters expressing the gratitude of the people in Brazil. The first letter was written by the girl Vitoria, who dared to enter her grandmother's house once more thanks to Nathalie:

One of the letters written by the children of the humedica project. Photo: humedica/Nathalie Nowak

"Nathalie, it was wonderful to meet you, I loved the little dolls (Nathalie had given her so-called worry dolls), You were the best friend I've ever had and a great help, You helped me a lot and I thank you so much"

The second letter was written by a girl called Nathany and is addressed to the entire humedica team: "I take this pen to write down my story. I have lost many friends, my cousin and my uncle. I am 9 years old, my family has lost everything, but we haven't lost our trust in God, which is most important. May God help us, and protect us, as from now on we have to rebuild everything and start from the beginning once more. Thank you for your help and God bless you"

humedica would like to continue standing at the victims' side and helping them to set up their existence once more after the landslides. In order for us to realise these plans, we need your support.

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

You can also donate for Brazil using our online form, or support us by means of a Family Sponsorship or by sending a text message: send the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and make a donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros being directly channelled into the humedica project work.

Thank you very much!

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