Text: Vanusa Coutinho, Patricia Dunker, Grace Caballi, Rogério Coutinho, Valéria Rückner (Coordinators Team, Associação Comunitária Monte Azul)
The first COVID-19 case in Brazil was confirmed on the 26th of February, 2020 in São Paolo. By mid-March, the government decreed social isolation as a way of preventing the spread of the virus.
Adhering to the indications and decrees of the government of São Paulo, the Associação Comunitária Monte Azul and its management councils began to prioritize serving the basic needs of their communities through donations, as well as ensuring the well-being of its employees.
In poverty-stricken and vulnerable areas, the situation is even more aggravating. Most people work as babysitters, porters, clerks, day laborers, and drivers who are self-employed and earn their income on a day-to-day basis. There was also a huge increase in layoffs and unpaid leaves in the country.
Social isolation ends up being unrealistic, as large families live in very small spaces and cannot maintain the necessary and safe distance so as not to spread the virus. With reduced or cut-off family income, the basic needs and hygiene needed by these families cannot be met, making them vulnerable and susceptible to this pandemic.
The financial resources that support the cause of the association are also impacted by the financial crisis experienced worldwide. The resources of institutional donations that are placed in exchange for programs and projects are challenging at the moment.
Remote work for professionals is also difficult and exhausting. At a time when each individual needs to deal with their own difficulties, anguish, and fear, society charges for results by demanding from them the good use of time. This same work now requires new tools, creativity, and a new way of doing every day.
In these new times, the internet has become the main source of communication for those who have access to it. For those who do not, however, home visits were made possible – thanks to our team of health professionals who are ready to serve.
Driven by this need and impulse, some campaigns to mobilize resources in Brazil and abroad started, along with projects and actions carried out by people from different programs of Monte Azul.
In addition to the collection and distribution of food, masks, and other basic needs, Monte Azul is also concerned with the spiritual food necessary at this time. To this, we kept the essence of the celebrations of the year – sharing physical and spiritual gifts with our co-workers and communities.
The actions have reverberated positively in the hearts of the communities we serve, our co-workers and partners, and everyone – building a network of fraternity, solidarity, and love for others.
For educators, guiding families on basic hygiene, the importance of isolation, wearing a mask, and the value of establishing a healthy routine at home for children was something that also required new learning and a lot of dedication.
Often, transmitting strength in a moment of loss of a family member or a difficult situation demands forces that the educators and health care professionals also need in order to continue.
These are indeed arduous times. But in the face of all this, we also see the emergence and strengthening of a desire in each one to do something to help everyone. This is indeed a moment in which to preserve one’s wholeness – that fraternity kindles from within – thinking also how to care for the other.
Full report in Portuguese here.
Vanusa Coutinho is a member of the Coordinators Team at Associação Comunitária Monte Azul – Brazil.