Volunteers Reach Island Community Isolated by Floods in Southern Brazil

Ninety-nine families struggling to cope received food baskets, clothes, and water.

Emanuele Fonseca, South American Division, and Adventist Review
Volunteers Reach Island Community Isolated by Floods in Southern Brazil
On May 26, a team of volunteers travel in a fishing boat to Marinheiros Island in Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to assist people isolated by the intense floods in the area. [Photo: South American Division News]

On May 26, a team of eight volunteers boarded a boat by the public market in the city of Rio Grande, in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to take donations to Marinheiros Island, where the access bridge had collapsed because of the recent heavy rains in that region of the country.

The water is currently approaching the highest points in the island. Churches and schools are being used as shelters, but the electrical grid is off, and water cannot be used as it is contaminated.

Cely Silveira, a resident of the island, shared her sense of powerlessness with the current situation. “Today, we just see boats where there used to be cars. There is a lot of water everywhere, and it is very challenging to move from here to Rio Grande,” she said.

The flood covered a 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) stretch from one end of the road to the other. The boats being used for relief supplies belong to the region’s fishermen. They cannot reach some areas, which makes humanitarian aid difficult to deliver. Only a navy helicopter has been flying back and forth to the island.

Several communities in this area, including Marambaia, Libertador, Madeirinhas, and Porto da Rei, are covered by the waters. “We are living with a single community that is still on dry land,” community leader Marisa Branco said. “Our brothers and sisters are waist-deep in water, in great need of help, which today arrived, thanks to God’s blessings, in the form of your church’s visit.”

A Relevant Church

According to Valdir Bristot, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Praia do Cassino district in the city of Rio Grande, it was a precious moment, despite the sadness of the current situation. “Volunteers were received with affection, even though the residents are feeling lonely and abandoned.”

Bristot emphasized that meeting people’s needs makes the church relevant, and that activities such as this are essential for those who call themselves Christians. “We must unite in prayer and action; these are some of the credentials of Christ’s followers.… Simple opportunities like this can make an unbelievable difference,” he said.

Ninety-nine families received food baskets, and the Adventist volunteers, along with the local Adventist community, also sent clothes, jerry cans of mineral water, personal hygiene baskets, diapers, and basic food items.

“They gave us love, they gave us affection, they gave us food, water, and even warm clothes,” Branco said. “I will never forget their affection despite their sadness when they found out the current state of our island. I will never forget their hug and the faith they gave us.”

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

Emanuele Fonseca, South American Division, and Adventist Review