At approximately 8am, Sunday 20th December, an explosion ripped through the lower part of our apartment block. With pieces of ceiling fragments pinning us to the bed my partner Paulo and I couldn’t work out what was happening. It took a fair amount of fumbling in the dark and dust filled room to find the door, to understand that half the apartment was gone, to locate his daughter Noni who had landed two floors below, and to climb precariously over what was left of the first floor in front of a crowd of shocked onlookers. The fireman had now arrived, a look in their eyes that could witness what we had only started to comprehend, that the building was about to go up in flames.
The rest is a blur. The ambulance sirens, the hospital and the cold hall of the fireman's office where we were later left, in donated coats and hospital slippers, the advice to ‘call someone'... the headline news, first of all our home up in flames, then later the reports of a body found in the wreckage. Our neighbour, young musician Gastão Reis, age 24. Two days later his father passed away in the hospital from smoke damage. The ebbing and flowing of awareness that we had nothing left, not even shoes, and thanks only to the kindness of family and friends and the speed of their reactions could we find ourselves, just over two weeks later, slightly unsteadily back on our feet.
It's been difficult to write this for a number of reasons. Firstly, sometimes it feels like it was all a bad dream, in actuality we are here, walking, breathing, unharmed. How appropriate is it to tell this story, in a time already filled with difficulties, loss and sadness. Why add to it? How can I possibly distance myself enough from this to write a ‘newsletter’ about it - should I just be factual, should I ignore the fact that life will never be the same again, for worse and also for better, that everything has been reshuffled and put into a different place to where it was before?
It’s something that is difficult to ignore, a part of our personal story that will shape everything to come. Everything to come depends on how we go forward now, and already we are witnessing some incredible gestures of support from so many individuals. In just two weeks we have temporary accommodation, tools to start work, clothes, offers of furniture, instruments.. It's truly astounding, and has reinstated my absolute belief in mankind, really.
The only thing that remains to be said at this moment is that the journey has just begun. If you wish to help us along the way, we are eternally grateful for support. Its not easy to take a lot of large items at the moment, but there are several different ways to help, listed below;
Donate to Gofundme Fundraiser in English pounds, organised by Ali Murfitt
Donate to Gofundme Fundraiser in Euros, organised by Atelier Concorde
Donate to Noni's Fundraiser to help her become independent
Transfer money through MBway if you have it - 920025717
Join the Facebook group where we will slowly request for second hand items and other support.
And thanks to everyone who has already showed us love, I haven't had a chance to thank you all individually yet but I hope to soon.
Wishes for a brighter 2021 to all,