By Joe Mullings
Last week I headed down to Nova Friburgo, just outside of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. This was our first “on the ground” visit for the charity we started following the January mudslides and floods in Nova Friburgo. The charity, Combat Athletes for Nova Friburgo (www.combatathletecharities.com) was established by myself, Dan Lambert, the owner of American Top Team, and Alex Davis who lives in Nova Friburgo. Alex is one of MMA’s top Managers and is a partner to both Dan Lambert and myself. I felt it was very important to be “on the ground” to ensure the money the charity raised went to a group or organization that we were sure would put it to use. I wasn’t sure what I was going to encounter when I arrived in Nova Frigurgo as the only exposure I had to the tragedy was news from the internet and from friends and their families who were at “Ground Zero” in the areas hardest hit.
As many of you know, Nova Friburgo and the other smaller cities that surround it are home to some of MMA’s and BJJ’s standout athletes, ranking among them are Edson Barboza, Pablo Popovitch, Malon Moraes, Vagner Rocha, and Alex Davis…. and my connection with these athletes who left their homes in Brazil and the Nova Friburgo area was one of the main reasons for starting the Combat Athlete Charities (www.combatathletecharities.com). This city has a population of 250,000 and from reports had more that 1,000 die in the rains and mudslide and even more lose their homes and families.
The support from the MMA and BJJ world was outstanding.
One of our main concerns, confirmed by residents of Brazil, was not to just blindly send the money down to an organization. So, after much planning, we decided to head to Brazil and meet those that would receive the money as we wanted to be sure it would go directly to the intended recipients. The plan was to fly into Rio and then catch a ride for approximately 2.5 hours out to Nova Friburgo. We were schedule to meet with the Mayor of Nova Friburgo and to conduct a television interview explaining the charity and its intentions to help those that were impacted by the tragedy.
For the next few days on this blog, I will share with you what I experienced during my brief and hectic visit…..
Once I hit the ground in Rio and headed out to Nova Friburgo with Alex Davis. We took a trip around the area and I had my first look at what occurred a little less than 6 months ago. The damage and devastation still scars the countryside. Nova Friburgo is in a very mountainous region and has very few buildings above 5 or 6 stories. The city is spread out over miles and miles and winds through the mountains and thick rain forest.
Coming Next… The first day out in the countryside and the damage still evident 6 months later.