After spending weeks living in shelters due to a flood, hundreds of families from Bacabal city, Brazil, were finally able to return to their homes. However, the river waters had taken almost everything they had. Aware of the families' situation, Compassion’s child development centre distributed cleaning and hygiene kits, clothes, and mattresses to children who needed them most.


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Tania with her mattress given to her by the project.

“When I sleep, I usually dream that I am very happy and that I have things that, unfortunately, my family still can't give me,” says 10-year-old Tânia. 

Children living in poverty dream of the ordinary. While sharing a bed with two or three more siblings, what permeates their dreams most of the time are not luxuries but simple wishes like a full table of food, a large house, or a soft bed. Poverty, however, tries to tell them that these things will only be distant dreams.

In the first few weeks of quarantine, Bacabal city, in northeast Brazil, had to deal with a new disaster: the flood of the city's main river, the Rio Mearim. Like a nightmare, hundreds of families, including Tânia's, had to flee from their homes taking only what they could carry to shelters, churches, or relative's homes.

“Many families were already suffering a lot from quarantine and the lack of jobs. The flood made everything even harder for the families," says Josefa, director of the centre. "We did everything to help them, but many families lost a lot of what they owned."

For weeks, the families had to adapt to a small, new family space alongside hundreds of others. When the river water level finally dropped, they were able to return to their houses. What was left was often confronting. For 15-year-old Erisvania, whose family also lost her home, the water seemed to have swept away her dreams.

"The mattress where I slept stank a lot after we moved into the shelter because the water wet it. I couldn't sleep comfortably,” she says.

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Volunteers from Compassion's church partner prepared personal hygiene and cleaning kits.

Aware of the hardship faced by the children, volunteers from Compassion's church partner prepared personal hygiene and cleaning kits.They also provided them clothes to help families get back onto their feet. They also donated mattresses to the children whose beds were destroyed by the water. 

"Now I'm going to sleep much better with the mattress I got from the project. I'm so grateful," says Erisvania. 

The centre's support arrived at the right time for families, whose children may not have been sleeping comfortably even before the pandemic. Now, even after the tough days in the shelter, it is a joy for them to know that they will have a comfortable place to sleep and dream. 

12-year-old Alex also lost his bed when his family's home flooded. Now he is sleeping on a mattress for the first time. “I have never had a mattress in my life, I always slept in hammocks. I am deeply grateful to the project that I now have a mattress to sleep on,” he says. 

Tânia, who used to dream of small comforts beyond her family's reach, also has a new bed of her own. “My mattress was very old, and I could feel the wooden planks of the bed whenever I slept. It was pretty bad," she says. "Now I am happy that I have a new mattress." 

Back in their old homes, the families from Bacabal are gradually rebuilding what the water took away. The nightmare of the flood days are over and they hope to dream of better days again. 






 

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