Rev. Dr Mauro de Souza

Rev. Dr Mauro de Souza, second vice president of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil.


Can you tell us about the severity of the flooding?

Rev. Dr de Souza: It is the first time, in the last decades, that a huge area is affected by intense rainfall and consequent floods. The State of Rio Grande do Sul has 497 municipalities. Three-quarters of those have been directly affected. We are talking about 2 million people. The Porto Alegre metropolitan area alone, where 4 million people live, has been deeply affected. Hundreds of thousands had to leave their places, thousands lost their houses and their livelihoods, hundreds lost their very lives. Hundreds are still missing.

Immediate challenges are shelter, water, food, medical, and hygiene supplies. When the waters go down, then comes the cleaning, rebuilding, and refurnishing houses. Also getting schools, businesses, roads, bus and train stations, and airports back to work. 

Mid and long-term challenges will be relocating entire neighborhoods if not entire cities. Jobs in the cities and in the rural areas will be major challenges.

What are some of the ways in which churches are working to help?

Rev. Dr de Souza: Churches and their members are among the first ones to respond. Some people volunteer to rescue people, others are working on sheltering them, others went on to organize donations and supplies. Many churches offer their spaces as collective shelters, cook hot meals, offer baths and safe beds.

Churches have deployed fundraising campaigns and will be of utmost importance when the rebuilding processes begin. Their most important task is to keep spirits up, with courage, patience, faith. Churches also team up with other civil organizations to demand better and safer public policies to prevent other disasters. Churches are among those who propose to begin a new relationship between people and nature. We are not here to use nature but to live with nature, with respect, reverence, and interdependence.

What can your ecumenical family pray for you across the world?

Rev. Dr de Souza: Pray for Gods presence among Gods people. Pray for the gift of creativity that comes from the Spirit. Pray for the teachings of Jesus Christ which include communion, sharing, simple living. Pray for church leadership whose job is to keep people standing, facing death with a discrete smile. Pray for a new start as humanity. Pray for the powerful nations to rethink their dominance over other nations. Pray for global policies that do not allow few people owning much of the worlds wealth at the expense of billions left with almost nothing.

Solidarity campaign of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil

WCC expresses sympathy, solidarity for people and churches of Southern Brazil (WCC news release, 8 May 2024)

flood in Porto Alegre, Brazil

The downtown area of Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, has been flooded for several days.