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Thursday 06 September 2012

Brazil Independence Day 2012
Brazil Independence Day 2012 SRT member Walter Benjamin de Madeiros Filho (BR) (far left) on his first deployment in Brazil responding to the floods in October 2011 with SRT member David Hatcher (UK) (far right).

Brazil's Independence Day, or Sete de Setembro, represents the South American country's Declaration of Independence from Portugal on 7 September 1822.

ShelterBox speaks to Brazilian ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member Walter Benjamin de Madeiros Filho. He is a Lieutenant Colonel at Pernambuco State's Military Police and became an SRT volunteer in April 2010.

How does Brazil celebrate this national holiday?
There are military and civic parades held around the country at the start of the day. Throughout the day, some cities organise shows, or in the case of where I live in Recife City, we head to the beach as it's the start of summer time.

Why did you want to become an SRT member? I actually never thought I would become an SRT volunteer. In fact my first contact with ShelterBox was during devastating floods in my State in 2010; a serious disaster that involved a lot of State organisations at different levels. With the arrival of ShelterBox in assisting with getting the job done I was very proud of the team. After this I definitely wanted be part of ShelterBox but I had no idea how to participate. Then one day I received an email from the representative of ShelterBox in Brazil, asking me if I was interested in getting involved with the disaster relief charity and becoming an SRT member. Well my answer was a definite yes.

Photo taken by Walter on his deployment to flooded Rio do Sul in the South of Brazil, October 2011.

How did you find the SRT 9-day training? Arduous, professional, very focused and worth it!

How many times have you deployed?
Just once in October 2011 when I deployed in my own country responding to extreme flooding in Rio do Sul in the South of Brazil. I was with SRT member David Hatcher (UK) and learned a lot.

What is your most memorable moment of that deployment?
When I set up my first ShelterBox disaster relief tent and saw the faces of the family. I'll never forget the happiness on their faces.

What did you find challenging? Finding suitable locations to store the boxes; arranging transportation and the security of the camp; and organising meetings with local authorities.

What difference did you see the ShelterBoxes making to families made homeless by the floods? They made a huge difference as they were moving to a better place with privacy. We brought them relief and smiles and, most importantly, they were able to restart their lives with a ShelterBox. It brought the family together and sheltered them enabling the parents to at least continue with their jobs and earn money and work to rebuild their lives.

ShelterBox has deployed to Brazil four times in the past two years, every time responding to widespread flooding, delivering a total of 1,230 ShelterBoxes to families in need.
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