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Galway student in aid appeal for flooded family in Brazil


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway student in aid appeal for flooded family in Brazil Galway student in aid appeal for flooded family in Brazil

A Brazilian language student has appealed for donations to help fund his family’s return to their home after it was submerged by devastated floods for over a fortnight.

Jose de Paula, who has been working part-time as a cleaner in the Corrib Shopping Centre and is an exchange student of the Atlantic Language School, has had all his childhood memories wiped out by the raging water, which rose to a height of 18 metres across his city which is located 2km from the river.

In Galway for the last year, the 33-year-old plans to stay another eight months to continue his studies. But it will be a very different São Leopoldo, a city in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Sul state in the south, which has 10 million residents with 95% adversely affected by the flooding.

“The high-speed road, the bridges, everything has been taken by the water. At some parts of the state, it rose to 30 metres. In my city 100,000 have been made homeless, which is more than the entire population of Galway,” he revealed.

“After fleeing the home by boat, my mother and stepdad have moved in with her grand aunt in another city and my sister is with her boyfriend’s family. They cannot move back in, the doors and the windows have to be replaced and they have no appliances or furniture, everything’s been marinating in the water.

“The government gave them the equivalent of €1,000, but that wouldn’t even cover the books I lost that I have been collecting for years. I got a scholarship to Portugal in 2018 and bought a copy of the Little Prince in the language of each country I visited so I had 12 or 13 copies. They’re all destroyed. All our photos are gone, all the letters and postcards I had kept.”

His parents built their home 40 years ago and there has never been any flooding in this part of Brazil before.

“It’s a very calm place. No-one was expecting something like this to happen,” he explains.

Rio Grande Sul was underwater for two weeks in May. Some places are still flooded after more than a month with the international airport and highways blocked or destroyed. The death toll is well past 100.

He has printed small flyers and A3 posters in a bid to drum up support for his online fundraiser and has been handing them out on the street during his lunchbreaks.

So far he has raised €310 out of a €10,000 goal.

“No contribution is too small. Even the amount of a coffee or a pint can make a difference in rebuilding our lives and home with some integrity and safety. Euros hold significant value compared to the Brazilian currency, making even small donations is impactful.”

“Everything is lost by now. My mother went back to retrieve clothes and photos, but there’s nothing left — it all needs to be discarded. After repairing the entire structure of the house, we will need to start from scratch, purchasing all essential household items and furniture.”

To make a donation, log onto and search for ‘Help my family rise from unprecedented flooding’.

Pictured: Under flood: the city of São Leopoldo in Brazil.


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