More than one hundred UAE residents took time off from work and school on Wednesday to volunteer and pack urgent assistance for communities affected by the recent floods in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. As they prepared food packs and other relief kits, the volunteers discussed not only helping others but also the increasing frequency of extreme rainfall in different parts of the world. Many of the volunteers themselves had experienced the record-breaking thunderstorms that hit the UAE in April, prompting them to immediately offer their assistance to flood victims in Brazil, where over 150 people are feared dead following torrential rains.

Rachel Caires, a Brazilian expatriate, accompanied by her two children and nephew, was among the first to arrive at Expo City to help prepare the relief packs. Caires explained that she brought her kids and nephew to provide them with a real-life lesson on the situation in Brazil and to help them understand the importance of taking action to safeguard lives, health, and well-being, as well as to address the threats posed by extreme weather conditions. Caires chose to volunteer on the eve of her fortieth birthday.

Alex Cale, originally from São Paulo, traveled with his family from Abu Dhabi to Dubai to participate in the volunteer efforts. Having lived in Rio Grande do Sul for two years, he described the flooding as the most devastating natural disaster he had witnessed. He noted that the waters were not expected to recede soon, even three weeks after the initial event. Media reports indicate that more than 77,000 displaced individuals remain in temporary public shelters, and additional tent cities are required to accommodate them.

According to Cale, these natural disasters worldwide should serve as a wake-up call to the treatment of Mother Earth. While heatwaves occur in some areas, other regions are experiencing more intense and destructive rainfall. The issue of climate change is also not lost on Filipino expatriates Mary Cui, Liz Casimiro, and Bernalyn Grace, who volunteered alongside their church mates. They stressed that they come from a flood-prone country, and at present, localized thunderstorms are causing flooding in certain parts of the Philippines. They emphasized that the impacts of climate change are real and that floods are becoming more devastating and deadly.

The Filipinas commended the spirit of volunteerism in the UAE, expressing their gratitude for the food packs and basic necessities they received from Dubai volunteers when they were stranded at home for days during the floods in Al Barsha last month. They were pleased to pay it forward by participating in volunteer work themselves.

Nada Khadhar Aljasmi, one of the Emiratis who assisted with carrying the boxes, took time off from university to volunteer. She explained that she wanted to demonstrate the Emirati culture of always helping those in need.

Sidney Leon Romeiro, the Brazilian ambassador to the UAE, expressed his gratitude to the volunteers and the UAE government for this initiative. When Brazilian expatriates inquired about sending aid to their homeland, Romeiro sought assistance from the UAE government. He stated that they not only received logistical support but also immediate emergency aid, such as power generators, blankets, and mosquito nets. Romeiro expressed his everlasting gratitude to the UAE government and its people for their empathy and support.