Coming home: the struggle to move on

Publié: 18 septembre 2014 3:53 CET

By Enrique Jair Guevara

A few months ago record-breaking floods damaged several sectors in Paraguay. Even though water levels have decreased stagnant water remains. Nevertheless hope has not diminished.

While the people affected by this disaster rebuild their lives, the Red Cross continues working relentlessly to help those who in most cases have lost everything.

Walking through the communities of Asuncion you can still feel the humidity trapped in the atmosphere and see the flood’s impact. However, one can still hear the stagnant water, the sweeping of  brooms and women singing while they clean accompanied by Paraguay Red Cross volunteers. Ever present, their tireless efforts shows true support towards these people trying to rebuild their lives.

Santiago Luengo, Disaster Management Delegate of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has been lending support to the Paraguayan Red Cross in their effort to help these disaster-affected communities. “It is incredible to see the strength these people possess while facing such a hard experience, what they are dealing with and their capacity to overcome. They are strong people trying to face these challenges head on, to be able to help their neighbors and acquaintances”. The majority of the paraguayan people are easy going and merry, this has really enabled the Red Cross to provide the best support possible since community members are the ones identifying the challenges and the best way to overcome them, adds Luengo.  

Water levels are decreasing; this has allowed some people to go home and start the cleaning process. In the mean time, others are waiting for the water to recede. Taking this into account, uncertainty is another challenge these people face, not knowing when they can return to their house, if ever. “I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to see your neighbor cleaning his house, while your house or another family members house is still flooded”, Luengo reflects.

These communities  face a long process and plenty of work towards cleaning their homes, this process according to Luengo is exhausting, due to the amount of mud, water and damage to infrastructure, which is expensive to repair. “I managed to speak to some of the people that are cleaning their homes, they tried to take out as much mud as possible, their possessions are wet, but what really leaves a psychological impact, is a small lin of a watermark reminding the affected where the water had reached, and items or possessions that had emotional value are now wet. These are the things you don’t get back, that require emotional healing.