Please donate: Brazilian Waldorf schools struggle to recover after mudslide devastation
(Doar means donate in Portuguese).
A series of floods and mudslides took place on January 11-12 in several towns of the Mountainous Region (Região Serrana), in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. Casualties occurred in the cities of Nova Friburgo, Teresópolis, Petrópolis, Sumidouro and São José do Vale do Rio Preto. The floods caused at least 845 deaths, including 405 in Nova Friburgo.
In a 24-hour period between January 11 and 12, the local weather service registered more rainfall than what is expected for the entire month. Flooding of many areas in the region followed immediately. The disaster caused widespread property damage and the supply of public utilities such as electricity, running water and phone lines was affected. Around 2960 people had their homes destroyed.
Nova Friburgo was the city most heavily affected by the floods. The majority of deaths were in poverty-stricken areas, and that the impact in these areas could have been much lower if it had not been for the systematically poor conditions of Brazil’s favelas. The lack of proper attention to these areas has led some to describe the disaster as “more manmade than natural.” The catastrophe of the mudslides has hit the poorest people in Brazil, destroying much of their few possessions, their land and their homes.
Over the past few days we have been in contact with the director and teachers from two Waldorf Schools in Nova Friburgo, which is in the hardest hit area.
The Association Crianças do Vale de Luz (Children of the Valley of Light) was founded by two teachers, Mariane Canella and Tião Guerra, in the city of Nova Friburgo, which lies up in the mountains of the state of Rio de Janeiro. There are now two schools, with about 300 children between the ages of two and twelve. The schools include children with special needs and teach children from the favelas (80%) and the cities (20%).
“Several families of our school community have disappeared in the disaster. Other families have lost literally everything and have to build everything “from zero”. The school itself has not been destroyed, but serves as an emergency shelter to many directly affected people. During the first days after the disaster we have been out of light and all ways of communication.
After the first shock and the fear came the emergency actions especially from the city but also from the whole state of Rio de Janeiro. Lots of people are helping as volunteers. The firemen are still looking for victims. Lots of people lost their houses or had to leave them since it could fall down anytime. Lots of places are welcoming these people, providing a temporary roof and food. Our Waldorf School, Vale de Luz, is one of these places.
After the time of immediate emergency, will follow the time of reconstruction, therefore our Association is diffusing a message to inform our friends and partners and raise some funds to help the families. As we receive the donations, we will invest them in the greatest needs.”
Please help with your donation, in order to reduce the suffering and misery of affected families around the Waldorf School Vale de Luz.”-Emmanuelle Robertz, shortly after the mudslides and flooding two weeks ago
“Dear Friends, My name is Dr. Darlan Schottz Ferreira and I am the director of the Association for Children of the Valley of Light. There are two Waldorf schools here in the municipality of New Freiburg. I am also the doctor for these schools. The tragedy here is immense and has affected many people, including some of our teachers and pupils. There are many people who have lost everything, their houses and their land.”-Dr. Ferreira wrote to us a few days ago.
“Quite a number of people commit themselves to help, due to the strong appeal in the media. However, we fear that the people are going to be forgotten, as soon as the media stops to spread the news about the disaster. Still whole families do not have the necessary material resources in order to pursue a dignified life. All of the food, water and other donations are being used before life is stabilizing again. In case that is even possible.
People, who lost their relatives and all of their possessions, do not have any insurance claim. This is due to the fact that the Governor has announced the region a disaster zone. In doing so, all the insurance companies are no longer liable to pay.
People, who live further away and are not directly affected by the catastrophe, cannot withdraw any money, since the banks are closed. The few groceries, which are still open, only accept notes and coins. A bottle of water can cost up to R$ 40.00 (approx. US$24.00)! These people are not part of the donation list and have to collect rainwater in order to survive.”-Emmanuelle Robertz sent us this report on 1/26/10
Emmanuelle Robertz sent this letter on 1/28/10 to give some background and the history of the schools:
Our association maintains two Waldorf Public Schools: The School Vale de Luz and the School Cecília Meireles. These are two of the four Waldorf public schools in Brazil! They were born respectively in 1985 and 1992 as local initiatives, one of them as an impulse from the local group for Anthroposophic studies. Our schools serve around 300 children from 2 to 12 years old, during the whole day, with a “strengthening” Waldorf education. The School Vale de Luz lies exactly at the bottom of three favelas, and most of the children are from very low-income families and live a situation of “non-stop social risk”.
The pupils of the other school have different socio-economical backgrounds: Around 25% are from middle-class families, the others from low-income families. In this second school the so-called “social integration” inside of the school does happen. For example, the son of the maid studies with the son of his mother’s boss! It has been very “strengthening” for the children to attend these two schools and since the schools were born we have had many stories of youngsters who changed their destiny. They went from entering the drug traffic and dying before 25 to a life as honest workers and responsible fathers
Speaking about special needs, we have several children with social and behavioral disorders, and each school has its own way to deal with them. In the School Vale de Luz, they enter a “Curative Education Class”, where they stay for some months and receive a special education before entering their respective classes. In the School Cecília Meireles, they are integrated in the classes with the other children. Brazilian law requires that children with special needs be integrated into conventional education. All this happens thanks to a great deal of collaboration of the public authorities, and from donations from Brazilian and international donors. I am responsible for the fundraising work, and I can tell you it is always a continuing process.
After the environmental disaster that has just happened, more than ever, our schools will be a reference for their pupils, a place where they can build self-confidence and confidence into the world they are growing up in! Beyond this very moment, in which we are worried about the rebuilding of the town and the support we can give to the families of our pupils and teachers, our schools need donations in the long term to go on existing inside of the public school network with this differentiated education.
This is very important. After the emergence, comes the necessary return to the school routine. We want to go on providing the children with the excellence they need and deserve.
Emmanuelle Robertz – Associação Crianças do Vale de Luz
(Our Association is also responsible for a Training and Development Center, attended by more than 600 adults (teachers and others) per year.)
How can you help? Firstly, by donating using the paypal button. Emmanuelle Robertz has established a paypal account for the school association that is denominated in US dollars. They will have immediate access to these donations for water and food.
How else can you help? Raise awareness in your classes at school. Have a high school Spanish class translate the Children of the Valley of Light home page introduction. Portuguese is a lot like Spanish. They’ll be surprised at how much they understand and they can learn about the situation there. Have a middle school class talk about Brazil, the explorers, and why they speak Portuguese and not Spanish. All of this can help raise consciousness, which leads to action. The Waldorf schools in Brazil are highly respected. Please help them in their time of greatest need.