Car­bon­ear fam­ily rais­ing money to help Brazil­ian stu­dent post-mud­slide

Fam­ily look­ing to help cover costs of mud­slide dam­ages

The Compass - - Editorial - BY CHRIS LEWIS chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

CAR­BON­EAR, NL — Fol­low­ing a mud­slide that de­stroyed mul­ti­ple homes in Belém de Maria, Brazil, a Car­bon­ear fam­ily has taken to Gofundme to help two former for­eign ex­change stu­dents.

Joel­son Venân­cio spent sev­eral months be­tween late 2015 and early 2016 liv­ing in Car­bon­ear with the Power fam­ily, where he went to school at Car­bon­ear Col­le­giate, leav­ing be­hind his home in Brazil.

The for­eign ex­change stu­dent re­turned to his home­town of Belém de Maria in Jan­uary of 2016, and has been liv­ing there since, work­ing to­ward his goal of at­tend­ing med­i­cal school to work as a sur­geon in Canada.

How­ever, in late May of 2017, Brazil faced heavy rain­fall, which is un­com­mon for the coun­try. Fol­low­ing the weather con­di­tions, a mud­slide tore though Belém de Maria, de­stroy­ing Venân­cio’s home in the process.

Via video call, Venân­cio showed The Com­pass the dam­ages the prop­erty sus­tained. Rooms were com­pletely torn apart. The dis­as­ter has left the home in un­liv­able con­di­tions, and Venân­cio and his fam­ily have been liv­ing with a neighbour ever since.

Upon hear­ing about the mud­slide and the dam­ages, Chris­tine Pen­ney Power, who Venân­cio af­fec­tion­ately calls mom, set up a Gofundme page, hop­ing to raise as much money as pos­si­ble to aid Venân­cio and his fam­ily with any costs re­lated to the de­struc­tion.

“Any host fam­ily can tell you that the bond you cre­ate with these kids over the course of five months or so is amaz­ing,” Power told The Com­pass. “And when I heard about the dam­age from this mud­slide, it ab­so­lutely broke my heart. I just had to do some­thing.”

Soon af­ter set­ting up the fundraiser, Power was told about Ariely Cari­cio, an­other pre­vi­ous for­eign ex­change stu­dent who at­tended As­cen­sion Col­le­giate, whose home in Belém de Maria was also de­stroyed by the mud­slide. Af­ter hear­ing this, Power raised the goal of the fundraiser from $1,000 to $2,000, look­ing to split any funds raised be­tween Venân­cio and Cari­cio.

“This is the first time any­thing like this has hap­pened in all the years we’ve been do­ing this,” ex­plained Power. “And when we found out that Ariely and her fam­ily were also af­fected, it only made the sit­u­a­tion feel all the more close to home. Two kids who spent so much time out here need our help, and we’re al­ways will­ing to pro­vide help any way we can.”

Venân­cio told The Com­pass he is very grate­ful for any help the Power fam­ily or any other Cana­di­ans of­fered, though he never ex­pected any of it.

“Canada (is a) very great place,” Venân­cio said via video call. “I have so many good mem­o­ries from there. Ev­ery­one is so friendly, and it means so much to me.”

Venân­cio said he and his fam­ily are cur­rently wait­ing on money from the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment, though he added that he was un­sure if or when they would re­ceive it, and even then they ex­pected to re­ceive no more than 3,000 real, which amounts to $1,235 Cana­dian.

As of last week, Power’s fundraiser ac­cu­mu­lated $620, and will con­tinue un­til June 18.

“Even if it can help buy some new mat­tresses, or some­thing like that, we’ll feel bet­ter know­ing we helped in some way,” said Power. “We just hope Joe, Ariely, and their fam­i­lies make it through this ok.”

We­blink: https://www.gofundme.com/help-fund-newhome

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

The dam­ages to Joel­son Ve­nan­cio’s home have forced him and his fam­ily to live with their neighbour for the time be­ing.

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