15/06/2020 10:56

Rosilene Miliotti1 and Evanildo Barbosa2

Unemployment, hunger and health problems ranging from inadequate basic sanitation to precarious healthcare in hospitals all add up to chaos in Brazil! The pandemic has thrown light on many of our population’s everyday problems. These issues, however, do not stem from social isolation, as some would have it, but from enormous inequities that have emerged even more dramatically in recent months.

In the midst of so much inequality, we have nevertheless witnessed the emergence of an intense people’s solidarity movement in Brazil. FASE and several civil society organizations, social movements, groups and collectives concerned with the rights and well-being of the most vulnerable sectors of our population have begun to mobilize with humanitarian and protective actions, while also offering qualified information to help people face the impacts of the new coronavirus. 

Since mid-March, our offices in Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso, Bahia, Pará and Espírito Santo have been closed, but their staffs are still working from home. The offices therefore have not stopped, nor have the SAAP and DEMA Funds. New partnerships have been established, others have been consolidated and funds have been reallocated and/or newly raised for emergency support to families and communities in these states.

FASE’s educators have mobilized, in compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) norms, to provide humanitarian aid to the groups, families and social movements with which they work. The results (through mid-May) have been a generous wave of solidarity and grassroots community learning. Thousands of food baskets and hygiene and cleaning kits were donated, thousands more masks distributed, important financial support made directly to community groups, agro-ecological products donated, and family farmers directly supported through these purchases, among other actions that mobilized the equivalent of roughly US$ 50,000, in a little over five weeks, in different regions of Brazil.

Geographically, these initiatives reached almost 220 communities and/or groups with whom we already work. We support leaders and their work to fight for housing, actions with children, youth groups, quilombolas, women and their groups, trash recyclers, fisherwomen, informal workers, family farmers, indigenous peoples, people from Afro-Brazilian religious centers, as well as other social segments affected by the pandemic.

In addition to donating staples during the pandemic, FASE has strengthened family farmers and local community markets, supported communications work to provide guidance on preventing Covid-19, and aided families registering for emergency assistance from the Brazilian government.

Such solidarity could not become real without the support of the FASE’s educators and from its national and international partner organizations, which sustain and believe in the work of this organization, which is about to celebrate 60 years of action in the defense of rights and social transformation in Brazil. 

There has also been enormous solidarity between the women of FASE and the women of groups and communities involved in these actions. The meaning of this solidarity is twofold: on the one hand, women in organizations like FASE are mobilizing and working to receive and provide humanitarian aid, while on the other hand, women in communities and social movements are organizing to deliver direct support in their communities. These examples of teamwork, struggle and resistance in difficult times move us to persist in our mission, despite so many abuses and inequalities prevailing in our country!

We shall carry on! If you can, stay home. Take care of yourself and those with you. It’s the only way we’ll get through this storm.

[1] Jornalist, FASE

[2] Deputy director, FASE