15/07/2020 11:27

Evanildo Barbosa e Taciana Gouveia¹

Since the Covid-19 pandemic was announced in Brazil, FASE has been engaged in solidarity actions to enhance the survival and resistance of people, groups, collectives and organizations facing the most diverse inequalities, absence of rights and various ongoing forms of violence and denial of rights.

When we began this work, we did not know exactly how to cope with so many different demands. We knew though that our experience in popular education, our daily presence in the territories and our network of partners would ensure the wherewithal to mobilize material and human resources and provide enough material to keep families’ lives and struggles going.

After 100 days, since March 15, we have managed to support 9,100 families with the donation of basic food baskets, besides 5,661 masks, 1,200 half-liter bottles of water, 720 bars of soap and 3,210 doses of homeopathic medications. As we almost doubled both the volume of items and the number of families we supported, FASE’s humanitarian action provided real support for families during this period.

It is worth noting that, at the outset, demand was mainly for food items, since most families in the territories where we work have precarious, informal jobs and, once the pandemic set in, lost their normal sources of income. As time went by, additional actions have included the donation of masks, medications and even drinking water. In other words, both we and they have learned by doing, gradually perceiving new needs and difficulties imposed by the situation. That also led us to help numerous families register for Emergency Aid from the federal government, to ensure access to this right and mitigate their hardships.

Solidarity that says “Yes to life”

Our strategy for the purchase of food, hygiene and personal protection items has sought, whenever possible, to strengthen local merchants and especially family farmers. In this case, we made direct purchases from over 200 men and women farmers.

These activities are being carried out in four regions of Brazil (Northeast, Southeast, North and Center-West), covering nine states (PE, RJ, MT, ES, BA, PA, MG, CE and AM). Three of these states are territories where FASE does not normally work (CE, AM and MG), but has important local partners. We reached 83 cities and 337 neighborhoods, communities and villages, showing the scale of the solidarity network among FASE, its partners and the communities. We highlight here the role of FASE’s own teams in Pernambuco, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Espírito Santo and Mato Grosso, especially the work done by the Dema Fund and the Project Analysis and Advisory Services Fund (SAAP).

FASE is sure that none of this would be possible without the concerted action of all 74 of our direct partners. We know that those organizations, collectives and groups are the players most knowledgeable of the realities in each area, capable of mobilizing and, above all, in need of support in such an adverse context, both to handle the pandemic and to deal with the political dimensions of the crisis unfolding in our country. To that end, we have also helped them draft projects to apply for public funding and cover travel and procurement expenses to purchase and distribute kits, food vouchers, mobile phone credits and other direct outlays, while also contributing to other political players’ fund-raising campaigns.

In just three months, we have raised R$ 668,605.00 through the solidarity and commitment of national and international institutions that support FASE’s work in the fight for equality, access to rights and democracy.

When we think of the gravity of our situation in Brazil, with appalling increases in hunger, poverty, unemployment, the absence of basic public policies, the fragility of health services, the escalation of all forms of violence and, in short, the deliberate policy of death that has ruled our days, it may seem that we have done very little. Not so, however! Not so, because in their daily lives, each of the 9,100 families who were able to eat and protect themselves with our solidarity experienced a concrete confrontation in denial of death. Each of the groups, collectives and organizations we support helps strengthen civil society. Every conversation we have while handing out products is a collective learning process. And FASE confirmed, once again, what it has been learning over nearly 60 years of experience: collective action to share resources, knowledge, experiences and affection is a vital political act. It means saying “yes to life.” It energizes the transformation that we need more than ever. And we shall carry on!

[1] Deputy director of FASE and coordinator of the SAAP Fund.