Brazil is a symbol for solidarity

by Dr. Rainer Berendes/RBU,  2011/01/26

Paediatrician Dr Rainer Berendes from Kumhausen in Bavaria is a member of the first mission team of humedica in Brazil. During his stay, he soon realised that Brazil is a symbol for more than carnival and holiday feelings. In his report, he would like to share his experiences with you.

The region surrounding Nova Friburgo is marked by destruction. Photo: humedica/Dr Rainer Berendes

"Sunny beaches, samba, soccer, caipirinha - those are the clichés that are often associated with Brazil. However, Brazil is much more than that! We were once more shown proof of that in the framework of our humedica relief mission in Brazil.

After torrential rains, a disaster of so-far unprecedented extent hit a region of the federal state of Rio de Janeiro, which is located about 70 kilometres north east of the city that bears the same name.

Within only a few hours, an expanse of about 70 kilometres was affected by disastrous landslides and floods, during which - according to official numbers - more than 700 persons lost their lives and several thousand families suffered injuries and lost their homes.

Our medical team travelled to Brazil four days after the disaster. The closer we got to Rio, the more we became aware of the extent of the disaster during our journey into the mountains. In Nova Friburgo, the city that has been affected most, every-day life eventually came to a complete stop.

Deeply moved by the terrible extent of destruction, I felt like I was in an earthquake region. Fortunately, thanks to the fast and efficient work of Brazilian state authorities and the excellent cooperation between the Armed Forces, disaster prevention institutions, the fire brigade and relief organisations, the streets were only blocked temporarily and hence we could start our work within only one day.

In states of emergency everyone joins forces and as a team a lot can be achieved. Photo: humedica

By local authorities we were assigned general care and basic medical treatment for the inhabitants of the 3rd district of the region Nova Friburgo. We set up health stations at schools, churches and sports facilities and separated into two independent teams in order to treat persons who asked us for medical help. During the first week of our mission, about 220 persons came to see us.

What was very useful regarding the accommodation of our team was the circumstance that the headquarters of humedica in Brazil is located right in the centre of the disaster area and, as by a miracle, has remained undamaged. This headquarters also served as "base" for our work in the surrounding villages.

Besides by those who have lost their homes due to the disaster, we were also welcomed warmly by various partner organisations, among others the Children's Village Rio, and we were offered free accommodation and very friendly service everywhere. I can hardly find words for describing the friendliness and attention we received here.

Muito obrigado! – Thank you very much!

Muito obrigado! – Thank you very much! Those were the words we heard by far most often. From the deeply creased and sun-darkened faces of patients at the health station, from the mouth of a young fire fighter, from mayors, priests, police officers, young and old - Muito obrigado!

We had a very touching encounter when we went shopping on the market place: an unknown woman addressed us and asked where we came from and who we were. Muito obrigada! After she had said this, she turned around, with tears in her eyes, and left.

The humedica mission teams treat patients at emergency accommodations. Kneeling right in the picture: Dr Rainer Berendes. Photo: humedica

Actually, it is us who have to say thank you. Thank you for incredible hospitality, thank you for making us feel a "part of" the local rescue forces, thank you for the gratitude that has been expressed towards us at every corner.

Soon, Nova Friburgo will return to every-day life. What will remain are destruction and the wounded souls of the people who will therefore continue to need our support for a long time after we will have concluded our medical care.

What will also remain is the deep respect for the people of Brazil who are dealing with "their" disaster with an attitude towards life that can hardly be described in words. And what will remain is the gratitude for having offered help together with these people.

Brazil is not only samba, soccer and sunny beaches. Brazil also is a role model for social cohesion and cooperation even, and in particular, in difficult times - disregarding appearance, origin or colour of skin.
In this spirit: Muito obrigado, Brazil! Muito obrigado, dear donors!

With kind regards,
Yours Rainer Berendes"

Dear friends and sponsors of humedica: We can offer accommodation and medical care to homeless persons in Brazil only thanks to your donations and the generous support of the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany.

Please continue supporting our work in Brazil in order to start reconstruction projects together and to accompany the children, women and men in Brazil on their difficult path.

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

Please also make an online donation for our relief mission in Brazil, support us by means of a Family Sponsorship or by sending a text message. Simply send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90. You will be charged 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work. Thank you very much!

Dr Rainer Berendes was grateful for the excellent cooperation with Brazilian relief teams. Photo: humedica

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