Scouts from three different Brazilian states travelled great distances to assist a ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) in setting up camps, providing emergency shelter to families made homeless by recent floods and mudslides in eastern Brazil.
For the third time in two years, Brazilian scouts were prepared to help ShelterBox deliver aid to displaced people in need of shelter, even if it meant travelling long distances through the night. Thirty scouts from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Minas Gerais joined forces with the SRT and local volunteers to help put up ShelterBox tents in the devastated areas of Japamapará and Além Paraíba. In two swelteringly hot days, tents became homes for around 70 families.
ShelterBox Response Team volunteer David Hatcher (UK) praised the scouts for their efforts: ‘True to the scout motto, be prepared and do your best. I was extremely proud and honoured to know that so many Brazilian young people had collectively travelled more than 8000km in the true spirit of humanitarian aid to help the people of Além Paraíba and Japamapará. Scouts and donors from around the world have expressed their love in a very practical way.’
As the scouts prepared to travel back to their homes, they saw the hope and joy in the families who were moving into the ShelterBox tents. Marciano Montoni together with his wife Mariana Montoni, two year old daughter Naira and baby son Marcello lost everything in the floods.
‘We are very sad to have lost our home, especially because of the children,’ said Marciano. ‘I really like our new home that ShelterBox has provided because it will be a temporary and comfortable house. Without ShelterBox’s help we would have to sleep on the street.’
Lais Henriques de Mattos, a scout from Rio de Janeiro, was very moved to know she was a part of an effort that is changing the lives of people who lost everything and said: ‘This is the first time I have contact with people directly affected by a disaster, it is a lesson for life.’
Flavio Menzer, a scout from Minas Gerais, said: ‘It is an honour for me and my friends to be here helping people and living our scout promise.’
Scout leader Fabricio Gabriel said the Scouts of Brazil are very proud to be working with ShelterBox in this action: ‘We brought hope, dignity and a little bit of comfort to families who have lost almost everything.’
‘ShelterBox can always count on us,’ said another scout leader from São Paulo, Arnoldo Wilde.
This collaboration comes at a very special moment for ShelterBox and the Brazilian Scouts Association. The two organisations are working towards the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement foresees the development of educational tools that will help scouts remain prepared for disasters.