As a member of the Niantic Social Impact team, I find that there is something truly special about seeing thousands of players gather together to explore a new area and engage with one another. Traveling to Brazil for the first Pokémon GO Safari Zone in Latin America was a thrilling experience for exactly that reason: I had the opportunity to meet Trainers who had journeyed halfway across the world as well as local Brazilian residents who have been petitioning for an event for years. I even met a group of Trainers who had taken their first plane ride to come to Porto Alegre, and others who had ridden hours on an overnight bus to experience this event. No matter where we came from, we were all there to experience the power of being together, playing Pokémon GO and making new friends in the sunshine of the Guaíba Riverbank.
On January 25, news of the tragedy in Minas Gerais broke and dominated the airwaves in the country. A dam broke suddenly in the municipality of Brumadinho, and we were all saddened by the humanitarian crisis. As we discussed the disaster, both among ourselves and with Trainers at the event, we immediately began to think of a way to help those affected by the disaster. While various ideas arose, the one that really fit the spirit of the Safari Zone weekend was to leverage the generosity of everyone attending to come together as a community and give what we could.
Working together with the Porto Alegre City Hall, we quickly put together a plan to collect donations of nonperishable items for community members impacted by the disaster. While we know and have seen firsthand how much our player community seeks to make positive impact, we were overwhelmed by the line full of smiling people that formed on Sunday morning, holding grocery bags full of water bottles, rice, beans, and so much more. The donations continued to pour in throughout the day both in the event space and at locations around the city. By the end of the day we, as a community, had collected:
- 344 gallons of water
- 2,885 pounds of food
- 1,375 units of personal hygiene items
- 70 pounds of pet food
- 103 units of cleaning items
- 2,500 units of clothing items
To me, this is the purest proof of the strength of our community and our desire to make an impact where it counts. It wouldn’t have been possible without collaboration from the local government, our amazing event staff, and most importantly, our phenomenal Trainers. Our work together goes well beyond games. We are building communities, connecting people, and changing lives. Nothing makes that more clear than the power of our live events, and this Safari Zone in Porto Alegre was a true testament to what we can accomplish together.
Thank you for making a difference.
—Leah Caudell-Feagan, Social Impact