PERNAMBUCO – It has been raining almost non-stop for days in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, which is facing the worst environmental crisis to ever hit the region. A state of emergency has been declared, with schools closed and public transport suspended.
The arrival of Inter Campus is always an exciting time for children and their families, even if this time the pitches were out of action on account of the stormy weather. Rather than the usual crowds and noise, the pitches are occupied instead by pools of water and animals. Many families have lost their homes and people have lost their lives; authorities have confirmed over 100 deaths to date. People offer help to their neighbours wherever they can.
Brothers Jose Klaiton and Jason Gabriel da Silva, who are part of the Inter Campus project, explained their situation. “We’ve lost our home and we’re living in a rented space. I was so happy to receive an Inter shirt.”
A planned trip to the Nerazzurri base in Aracoiaba was cancelled due to the impassable roads. Reception is patchy. Where possible, training could take place in gyms so that people would not miss out on spending time together. This was the case in in Joao Alfredo, Passira and Vicencia, where they made sure to still provide a warm welcome in true Brazilian style. They told us that it was the first time that someone from Europe had visited these rural areas. It’s a difficult time, but this serves to reiterate the significance of the Nerazzurri project and the way that it goes beyond the playing field. The educational role of Inter Campus, supporting learning and development, is reinforced through practical and theoretical activities both on the pitch and in the classroom. It offers a great example with wide-ranging impact.
With Ronaldo having donned the shirt now nearly 25 years ago, there is an extra sense of responsibility to uphold the principle that sport should be for everyone. Boys and girls take these values forward in their daily lives.
The week should have ended with a large get-together, but smaller meetings, games and discussions took place instead. The theme of the week was Gratidão – gratitude – a sentiment shared by the mayors, teachers, students in attendance and all of us too.
The visit came to an end in a sober atmosphere of solidarity, with many wet embraces and a promise: to bring hope through the beautiful game.