"We are standing next to those who survived at a loss for words"

by Nils Stilke/RBU, 2011/01/24

Together with Dr Irgmard Harms and logistician Christian Simmons, Nils Stilke joined the mission team that travelled to Brazil. Since the disaster region surrounding the city of Nova Friburgo is still partly cut off, communication continues to be difficult. In his first report the experienced humedica coordinator tells about his impressions.

The humedica Children’s Village serves as emergency accommodation for more than 100 persons who have lost their homes. By playing games with the mourning children, the humedica employees (here Nils Stilke) try to make them forget their sorrows at least for a short moment. Photo: humedica.

“After our arrival at the humedica base close to the city of Nova Friburgo, we visited the surrounding residential areas in order to assess the extent of destruction and to plan our relief actions. The situation was and is depressing.

Due to heavy and continuous rainfalls, large parts of the hillsides have slid down into the valleys and entire villages and roads have been buried under mud. Locals assume that in parallel with the heavy rainfalls there might have been an earthquake which could have set off the landslides in the entire region. These landslides, in turn, caused the unbelievable disaster with more than 700 confirmed casualties.

Cars, large rocks of a diameter of up to three metres, power poles and various household objects were dragged down roads and hills in rapid currents. Even one week after the disaster numerous places can still not be reached, roads are still impassable.

In other places rescue and clearing works have already set in. We are standing next to the survivors, watching the rescue teams at a loss for words. We are deeply touched by the scenario of massive destruction and the certainty that there are still many dead persons buried by mud and rubble.

Nevertheless, all of us are hoping for miracles such as the one that happened four days after the disaster in Nova Friburgo, when a buried person could be rescued still alive from under the ruins of a collapsed building.

When we visited the Brazilian authorities in order to offer our help and to make arrangements on where and in which way we could implement our disaster relief, we were welcomed by persons grateful for our commitment and our obvious sympathy. We were asked to administer medical aid with two mobile hospitals in the district where also the humedica base in Brazil is located.

The roads have simply turned into muddy tracks and even one week after the disaster many places can still not be reached by car. Photo: humedica/Nils Stilke

Hence, on the next day we got on our two off-road vehicles and drove to various, partly very remote villages in order to offer medical treatment to homeless survivors at refugee camps.

In many places the roads are still very dangerous and they become impassable daily due to minor landslides. This was also the case when we drove to a valley where we wanted to offer medical aid and which was cleared for the first time when we arrived.

In front of our vehicle, a front loader cleared away the rubble and this was the first time the village could be accessed - six days after the disaster. humedica was the first medical team to treat the people living in this valley. The people here need us."

Dear friends and sponsors of humedica. After providing those who have lost their homes with first medical treatment, we will help them to reconstruct their houses. We cannot ease their sorrow about the loss of loved ones, but we can stand at their side. Please support our work.

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

You can also support us by making a donation for Brazil via our online form, by taking over a Family Sponsorship or by means of sending a text message: send the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and support us with a one-time donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work. Thank you very much.

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