Eliene Almeida, head teacher at the municipal school in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, heard the cry from her husband – “He came in shouting that we had to run!” The dam at the Samarco mine had burst – a 65 foot-high wall of mud and water was moving quickly through town and toward the school.

The teacher had to move quickly or risk the lives of dozens of children. “Within three minutes everyone was out,” and all 58 students survived.

Others in town were not so lucky. Dozens are still missing, the town is devastated, and the school is destroyed.

The mayor of a neighboring town called Eilene Almeida a “hero.” “I don’t see it like that,” she said with a shrug. “Anyone would have done the same.”

One of the chief complaints has been the lack of an emergency plan and/or some type of warning system in town that could warn people of impending doom. No one inside the school was even aware that the wall of mud was headed their way.

If not for the quick thinking and action of the Almeida’s – the outcome would have been far different.

Eileen hopes community leaders will quickly get behind a new school, but, she says, things will never be quite the same. “You can build a new school, but all the work that went into that school in Bento, what it meant to the village, that’s gone forever.”

The Next Leap Forward

What’s not gone forever – is HOPE, and the OPPORTUNITY to build not only a new school, but a better school.

As a society – we all have a vested interest in the future. We never know when a disaster will strike our lives – whether it be a storm, natural disaster, or an accident.

How we handle the disaster is important – but also how we handle the aftermath of the incident is critically important.