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"All people can help in some way": João Paulo raising awareness for relief efforts in Brazil

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Since the end of April, João Paulo’s home state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil has been devastated by unprecedented levels of flooding.

Weeks of torrential downpours have caused the southern region’s expansive network of rivers to surge. Entire towns have been overwhelmed by the floods, with reports in some cities that major streets are under as much as 30 feet of water. It’s a natural disaster of historic proportions that has displaced over 600,000 people and damaged critical infrastructure like power plants and water treatment facilities.

For João Paulo and fellow Sounders teammate Léo Chú, it has been an extremely difficult time to see the place they call home experience so much destruction.

“I saw a lot of friends that are going through a bad moment,” he said. “I also have friends who are going to help a lot of families, to rescue people. It’s hard to be far and feel like I could be there helping in some way. I’m trying to help from here, but it’s still hard.

“I’m trying to raise some awareness to this situation. It’s not only in my country. It’s not only in my home state. We are seeing these natural disasters around the world.”

João Paulo’s hometown of Serafina Corrêa was one of the over 300 cities impacted by the floods. While his family is okay, he knows it will take a long time for the region to recover.

Normally a man of few words, João Paulo wants to use his platform to urge people to help bring relief to the people of Rio Grande do Sul.

“My message in general is that all people can help in some way,” said João Paulo. “Even us from here, if you can donate anything – any amount of money – it will be very helpful for those families that lost their home, their child, their pets. It’s hard to see those videos and those reports. So again, if you can help and donate any amount, it will be very, very helpful for those families.”

In addition to financial donations, the people impacted by the floods are in desperate need of warm clothing and supplies as winter approaches in the southern hemisphere.

“The Brazilian community here in Seattle are very close, and we’re trying to help,” he said. “We have a lot of people from my home state living in Seattle, so we’re trying to get together and send some [clothes] because winter is coming in Brazil. It will be cold very soon. They need clothes, coats [and] blankets. It’s the moment to send this kind of stuff.”

The reports coming out of Brazil are heart-wrenching. There is an immediate need for assistance to the millions of people impacted by the floods.

“It’s 300 cities – a lot of families with no homes, no electricity, no power, no water,” said João Paulo. “I know a lot of people in Brazil are donating a lot of stuff, so that’s good. The people are coming together to help. But in this situation, we can’t stop donating. We saw here in the U.S. with [Hurricane] Katrina, we have a lot of disasters, and the people are still healing and trying to pull it all together and rebuild. This natural disaster will be a long journey for those people to rebuild and put everything together again.”

Sounders FC directs fans to the Luz Alliance Fund to learn more about how to support emergency relief and rebuilding efforts in Rio Grande do Sul.

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