Fo Guang Shan and Buddha's Light International Association Deliver Relief to Flood-Ravaged Southern Brazil

The southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul, has been struck by its most severe flooding in nearly a century. Continuous heavy rainfall from April 29th to early May caused rivers to overflow and dams to leak, resulting in catastrophic flooding. By mid-May, 464 of the state's 497 towns were submerged, affecting over 90% of the region. The disaster has resulted in 157 deaths, 85 missing persons, and 806 injuries, and left 657,000 people homeless, impacting over two million individuals.

The unprecedented flooding has halted all commercial activities, with widespread reports of power outages, lack of drinking water, and food shortages in the affected areas. In response, various groups and individuals across Brazil have launched the "S.O.S Save Rio Grande do Sul" campaign.

Fo Guang Shan Zu Lai Temple in São Paulo, along with the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) Brazil Chapter, initiated a relief effort in early May. Ms. Rose Lacerda, Advisor of the Lotus Subchapter, and Ms. Rita Reche, President of the Lotus Subchapter, coordinated with relevant agencies to organize transportation channels for the supplies. BLIA World Headquarters Director and Advisor of BLIA Brazil, Mr. Hong Tsu-ho and Advisor Li-Yeh Hong Lu sponsored 718 boxes of sanitary supplies. BLIA Brazil President Xu Yonglong and members actively procured and collected supplies, which were gathered at Zu Lai Temple awaiting transport to the disaster areas.

The severity of the flooding necessitated road closures in the affected state, initially creating a bottleneck in the transportation of relief supplies. Fortunately, Mr. Hudson of Bridge Company, a partner of President Rita, volunteered to assist. He facilitated the transportation of supplies over 2,000 kilometres between São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul and gathered volunteers to distribute the goods to disaster relief centers and affected residents.

On the evening of May 14th, Venerable Miao You, the South America Chief Abbess of Fo Guang Shan, and Ms. Rita Reche, along with volunteers, loaded over 700 boxes of sanitary supplies onto a ten-wheeled truck. The first relief truck departed from Zu Lai Temple at 7:30 PM, heading towards the disaster area in Rio Grande do Sul.

The situation worsened with a cold wave, dropping temperatures in the south below 10 degrees Celsius. The second batch of supplies, including food and blankets, arrived at Zu Lai Temple. On the evening of May 15th, Association Vice President, Fo Guang Scouts, and youth volunteers loaded a second truck with 1,440 blankets, 370 boxes of food baskets, 6,000 litres of mineral water, warm clothing, and cleaning supplies for the disaster area.

The Brazil Chapter continued to receive distress messages from the south. The third truck, carrying 12 tons of food baskets and nearly 4 tons of blankets, departed for Rio Grande do Sul on May 22nd. Fo Guang volunteers in Brazil remain committed to monitoring the situation and providing necessary assistance to the affected residents.

The BLIA World Headquarters, BLIA Paraguay Chapter, and the Charity Foundation, driven by the spirit of “Unconditional loving-kindness and universal compassion," donated funds to the Brazil Chapter. This enabled the coordination of purchasing over 32 tons of relief supplies, alleviating the suffering of the disaster victims. The flood has caused immense loss of life and property. The swift relief efforts by Fo Guang Shan and BLIA exemplify the compassion of Buddhism and have fostered a positive relationship with the Bodhisattva volunteers in southern Brazil through their collective humanitarian efforts.