During the distribution of supplies, Tzu Chi volunteers led the flood-affected residents in a heartfelt prayer. As the melody of the songs filled the air, everyone joined hands in devout prayer. In that moment of unity, the emotionally exhausted disaster survivors felt a mix of profound emotions. Photo by Cai Qifang| San Agustin, Alto Paraná, Paraguay | 2023/11/05

In early November, the second largest city in Paraguay, Ciudad del Este, experienced relentless downpours. They caused the Parana River to surge, transforming nearby low-lying areas into lakes. Upon receiving this distressing news, Tzu Chi volunteers swiftly started disaster assessments and the distribution of essential supplies, including food and daily necessities. They aimed to meet the immediate needs of the affected residents.

Five Tzu Chi volunteers hired a boat to enter three severely affected areas for disaster assessment. A young boatman, Cristian (in the forefront), was hired to paddle the boat and take the team into the disaster zone. Photo by Cai Qifang | Alto Paraná, Paraguay | 2023/11/02

The once bustling streets were submerged by turbulent, muddy waters. This posed significant challenges for volunteers conducting on-site assessments. In the Saint Raphael district, travelling on foot became nearly impossible, compelling volunteers to rely on makeshift canoes paddled by residents to gain firsthand insights into the extent of the disaster.

Countless homes were submerged, forcing residents to temporarily relocate to higher ground. But the hastily erected tents in the relocation sites provided little defense against the relentless rainfall.

Volunteers visited a family of seven crammed into a tent, who had endured several days without a hot meal. The challenging circumstances left them longing for a warm and comforting meal. ‌ ‌Photo by Cai Qifang| Ciudad Presidente Franco, Alto Paraná, Paraguay | 2023/11/02

After surveying the situation and understanding the needs of the flood-affected families, in less than two days, Tzu Chi volunteers promptly started distribution of emergency aid. Residents in the makeshift tent communities received enough food and essential supplies to sustain them for a month during these challenging times.

(left photo) Tzu Chi volunteers conducted a relief supply distribution at the temporary shelter in the flood-affected area of San Agustin by the river. With sincere respect and care, the volunteers extended their hands to deliver blankets and essential supplies to the disaster-stricken residents. Photo by Cai Qifang | San Agustin, Alto Paraná, Paraguay | 2023/11/05(right photo) Volunteers handed out blankets to the flood-affected residents and assisted in carefully packing the blankets into eco-friendly bags. Photo by Cai Qifang | San Rafael, Alto Paraná, Paraguay | 2023/11/05

Representing the affected residents, a priest from the Saint Augustine Parish expressed gratitude to Tzu Chi for their timely assistance. He said: "May God bless all the volunteers who have come to help, and may the affected residents swiftly overcome their hardships."

In the "October 23 Community," volunteers distributed food and Tzu Chi’s eco-friendly blankets, which are made from recycled PET bottles. For those unable to reach the distribution sites, volunteers personally visited them, offering not just supplies but also heartfelt blessings.

Reported by Cai Ciqi, Cai Qifang | Paraguay