If he had been alone, Fredy Montero would have been driven to tears by his most recent trip home to Campo de la Cruz, Colombia. He was on the familiar streets and saw the things he remembered about his community - the church, the park, the school - except they were all under water.
Back in December, heavy rains in caused flooding and mudslides in Montero’s hometown and while the Sounders and their supporters responded in Seattle, Montero flew to Colombia to support his family and neighbors get through the most difficult time of their lives. It was a trip that he would not soon forget.
“It was bad. I almost cried, but I had to be strong because I was with my family and I didn’t want them to see how bad I was feeling … it was really sad,” he said, even momentarily hesitating in recounting the devastation. “I never thought I’d need a boat to go down the streets that I grew up playing.”
Montero noted the people lining the main road in and out of Campo de la Cruz who were virtually begging for help. He contributed much of his own money toward helping the people and even met with other prominent people from Campo de la Cruz on his trip to keep everybody involved in the relief efforts.
He was stunned, though, at the response from thousands of miles away in Seattle. Through Mercy Corps, the Sounders organization and the supporters of Emerald City Supporters, Gorilla FC and North End Faithful joined to raise over $28,000 to help flood relief in Campo de la Cruz. Online donations and a fundraiser in December brought the contributions to that total, which was matched by the European Commission.
“When you score a goal, the fans are happy. When you need to help other people in another country, it’s amazing to get that response,” Montero said. “It’s very special. I’m so proud to play in Seattle for the Sounders.”
The funds have gone to good use, too.
“The situation in the Atlantico is moving ahead, albeit slowly,” reported Mercy Corps program manager Alan Grundy, who is leading the Mercy Corps Emergency Response in Atlantico. “The breach in the canal is finally closing, and the flood flows have been stopped. Mercy Corps has presented the regional government assistance with water filters for the long-term shelters – a vital step in maintaining safe water supplies and preventing disease, such as cholera. Unfortunately, shelter construction has been slow, so our participation in that area is limited. We are prepared to assist as construction proceeds. Insuring access to clean water is a top priority.”
Meanwhile, Montero continues to contribute to the efforts.
“I tried to give my best because too many people need help. It’s very sad because your family has the problem,” he said. “I’m going to help for as long as they need. Nothing is done yet. We have to keep helping until it’s better.”
Montero is also eternally grateful for the efforts from the Sounders and their supporters. In just two years, he has become a mainstay in the hearts of Sounders fans. He wants them to know that the feeling is mutual.
“I’m so proud because this is my third year with the team and every day people are getting closer to the players and to me,” he said with a glint in his eye. “This is the best team I’ve ever played for.”
To donate, visit http://www.mercycorps.org/fundraising/seattlesoundersfc