Teenager Becomes a Volunteer after She Loses Everything in a Flood

After Diuly’s 15th birthday party, rain washed away her home, and now she is assisting others.

Anita Leite, South American Division, and Adventist Review
Teenager Becomes a Volunteer after She Loses Everything in a Flood
Diuly Hoffmann at her birthday party (left), and volunteering in a shelter. Three days after her 15th birthday, Diuly lost all her possessions in the floods of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. She then decided to become a volunteer to assist others affected by the disaster. [Photo: courtesy of Diuly Hoffman]

Anyone who sees the smile on her face, her nimble hands in action, and the excitement in her words can hardly believe that three days after Diuly Hoffmann’s long-awaited 15th birthday party, everything was washed away. The Canoas Adventist School student and her family fled their home during the recent flood in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

As the water rose, furniture, clothes, and even the gifts she had received days before at her birthday party were carried away by the floodwaters. “We took away some clothes and our cars,” Tatieli Hoffmann, Diuly’s mother, said. “As for the rest, we lost everything. Even our store, which is our livelihood, is under water.”

Although the family is going through such a challenging time, all of them are involved in assisting the community. Now, instead of attending the school as students, Tatieli’s two daughters are there to volunteer at the shelter that has opened on the school premises. Classrooms and other spaces have become a place to sort clothes and shoes, prepare meals, and deliver lunchboxes. About 200 people are sheltered there, and they have been receiving daily meals and even health care at a small makeshift post.

“I confess that I have felt sad sometimes, but it has been very good to participate,” Diuly said. “During work I see people’s joy in receiving food and clothes. Just yesterday, I helped a woman get the things she needed and, at the end, I said a prayer with her. I felt really good knowing that I helped.”

In addition to shelter, Canoas Adventist School has become a collection and distribution center for food, water, clothing, mattresses, toiletries, and other items. In addition to meals for those sheltered there, volunteers are distributing lunch boxes with hot meals to the affected population.

Solidarity that Knows No Distance

Far from Canoas and the effects of the flood, students at Recife Adventist School in Pernambuco proved that solidarity knows no distance. The 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) between the two schools did not prevent the school in northern Brazil from helping those affected by the flood in the south.

Recife Adventist School students took to the streets to raise awareness about the need for donations. The “citizenship class” even made it onto the news, catching the attention of local media outlets, and thus reaching more people.

Near Canoas and also within the flood-affected area, Esteio Adventist School, one of the 74 Adventist schools in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, has also become a shelter and is functioning as a collection and distribution center for affected families.

From near or far, all 470 Adventist schools in Brazil are involved in assisting the victims of the recent floods in Rio Grande do Sul, either through fundraising or by facilitating cash donations, regional church leaders said.

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.

Anita Leite, South American Division, and Adventist Review