Charities Operating in Brazil
Between 2019 and 2021, 9.6 million people who were not previously impoverished fell below the poverty line. By 2021, 62.9 million people in Brazil (29.6% of the population) had a monthly per capita income of up to R$497. This was the highest level of poverty that the country had experienced since 2012. Although Brazil is facing a number of issues, such as homelessness and poverty, five charities operating in Brazil aim to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged citizens.

5 Charities Operating in Brazil

  1. The Favela Foundation. This organization came about in 2017 with the goal of, according to its website, “contributing to the development and growth of sustainable social and educational projects in the favelas of Brazil.” Essentially, the Favela Foundation provides various forms of support to grassroots initiatives working to advance education and improve social welfare in the favelas. The Foundation also works alongside NGOs to provide free English classes to people of all ages. Knowledge of English can help boost working and earning potential in Brazil. The Foundation’s main area of operation is in Rocinha — a favela located inside Rio de Janeiro and also the largest favela in the country.
  2. Catalytic Communities. This nonprofit organization is a Rio- based think tank and advocacy NGO. In short, this organization works as a news and research source that advocates for the well-being of the people who inhabit the favelas of Rio. This nonprofit plays a role in advocating for pro-favela legislation within the local and national governments by raising awareness and conducting research. Its most recent project is making a legislative proposal that would allow Community Land Trusts in Brazil. These trusts would help by essentially providing more affordable housing.
  3. Community in Action. Founded in 2004, this NGO focuses on social outreach with the goal of facilitating community development in the favelas through education initiatives and other projects. The organization has a large network of volunteers from all over the world. Volunteer opportunities include providing English lessons, assisting with child care, assisting with manual labor and urban gardening projects. With its plethora of volunteer opportunities, anyone who wishes to help has many options.
  4. ActionAid. This U.K.-based NGO has played a humanitarian role in Brazil since 1999. Most recently, ActionAid has made efforts to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Brazil’s most at-risk residents. It has helped vulnerable Brazilians amid the pandemic by providing food, hygiene kits and protective face masks to those in need. Prior to the pandemic, ActionAid focused on education for slum children, safeguarding girls from sexual exploitation and helping drought-ravaged areas to recover from extreme weather events and become more climate resilient, among other activities.
  5. Associacao Crescimento Limpo. This is a social services organization that is focused on the homeless population of Brazil. Located in a town outside of São Paulo, this organization provides services in the area of housing and job training. One of its most recent projects is a halfway house for people who are struggling with homelessness and drug abuse. Crescimento Limpo has made a positive difference by helping the homeless community in Brazil, with many success stories to prove it. One example of Crescimento Limpo’s success is visible in the story of Wayne. Wayne suffered from drug addiction and eventually sought help. He was later placed in one of Crescimento Limpo´s halfway houses. After recovery, he launched a new initiative with the organization called Caféla, a restaurant that provides jobs for unemployed residents.

Overall, through community initiatives, these five charities operating in Brazil are working to make Brazil a better and safer place. These organizations not only benefit Brazil but also contribute to the reduction of poverty worldwide.

– Timothy Ginter
Photo: Flickr

Vaccinating Maré's favelasDespite Brazil’s largely successful vaccine program, it is only now that Maré, Rio de Janeiro’s largest complex of favelas, is experiencing mass vaccination against COVID-19. One thousand professionals vaccinated a significant portion of the population. In schools, “health centers” and other sites, these professionals look to vaccinate upwards of 30,000 people between 18 and 34 throughout the community. Organizer planned to give community members the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was produced by the Fiocruz institute.

Why the Vaccination Drive?

This effort is not permanent and cannot indefinitely supply vaccines. A primary goal of the effort is to conduct a study on the effects of mass vaccinations in such a large complex, which is home to widespread “poverty and violence” and often does not reap the same benefits as wealthier areas of Rio. In Maré, which contains 16 favelas, more than half of the inhabitants are under 30.

Maré has seen about 350 deaths since the pandemic began, but reporting difficulties in many other favelas often means that even official counts are artificially low. The study will utilize genomic sequencing to track variants and will seek to understand vaccine efficacy in the face of the virus evolving. Vaccinating Maré’s favelas stands as a novel move. The study’s uniqueness stems from its size, its target population and its location. Since rapid spreading can lead to a rise in variants, using a favela, rather than a hospital or health unit, is beneficial to research into variants.

Maré’s Social Mobilisation

Along with the program, Maré’s greatest strength in responding to the pandemic has been its social mobilization. Campaigns to reduce the number of deaths work through local media, social networks and word of mouth. The NGO Redes da Maré and the Mare Mobilization Front both work to inform and educate the public.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the COVID-19 in Favelas Unified Dashboard recorded nearly 7,000 COVID-19-related deaths from nearly 100,000 cases. The dashboard focuses on the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. However, cases and deaths are both underreported, and the Unified Dashboard does not cover every favela, meaning that the actual death toll is doubtlessly much greater. For these reasons and more, vaccinating Maré’s favelas remains a key priority.

Understanding the Dashboard

The dashboard began in April 2020 “when grassroots organizations participating in projects organized by Catalytic Communities (CatComm) began to report cases and deaths in virtual meetings of the Sustainable Favela Network (SFN).” CatComm began a reporting initiative through newspapers and word of mouth from community groups themselves. Other methods included individual outreach for data collection, outreach to local health clinics or through WhatsApp, and analysis of available data when accessible.

The initiative gained traction because of a catalyzing unwillingness by the government to “survey favelas.” The dashboard was officially launched on July 7, 2020, according to its website, and has grown with each new press conference surrounding its progress. Campaigns like #VacinaPraFavelaJá have arisen to promote vaccination and have even enlisted figures like cartoonist Carlos Latuff.

Looking Forward

While the initiation of the vaccine process is a welcome one to many inhabitants of Maré, it has begun only after countless deaths and governmental neglect. The widespread nature and varied methods of the Unified Dashboard have meanwhile shown how collective action can keep communities afloat even in the absence of sufficient governmental intervention. Moreover, with strong community engagement and growing governmental support, vaccinating Maré’s favelas could lead to a more secure and safe future in due time.

Augustus Bambridge-Sutton
Photo: Unsplash