Connect2: Brazil: “It was a long fight, with many tears, but now all I feel is gratitude”

The Ambassador (second from left) meeting residents in Brasilândia, with Helouisa from APOIO (left), Geni who is an APOIO Educator (second from right) and Sueli from MDF (far right).

On Wednesday 19 August, the EU Ambassador to Brazil, João Gomes Cravinho, visited families in São Paulo where our partners, APOIO and MDF work, which has support from the EU.

During his visit, the Ambassador heard first-hand about the struggle of 450 families facing poverty and at risk of eviction in North São Paulo. With support and accompaniment from APOIO, the families have successfully negotiated with local government, a delay to the eviction order by 3 months. They have also secured a commitment from authorities to conduct a vulnerability assessment, which identifies people for referral to public housing and social programmes. Negotiations and dialogue with authorities to rehouse or provide permanent housing solutions for these families are on-going.

Several people told the Ambassador about the importance of this work. The Ambassador met resident Marcela Aparecida Neves, aged 26, who looks after her three daughters aged, 7, 6 and 18 months in Brasilândia.

Marcela with her daugher

She says, “Rents in São Paulo are prohibitively high. We were not able to pay rent and put food on the table for our children at the same time. Here we have found solidarity with other families and hope to provide our children with a more dignified life.” 

The Ambassador also visited a new social housing unit, Conjunto Minas Gás II, now home to 100 previously homeless families. For 15 years these families struggled for their right to access decent housing and with the support of the project’s accompaniment, information, capacity building and community-based advocacy work, they have finally achieved their own home.

Claudete Amorim, one of the new residents, explained what the support of this project had meant for the families, “With the support of CAFOD and the EU through the Urban Programme, we had guidance about the decisions we were making which helped us to get to where we are today.  We had meetings and demonstrations, and met key actors to demand our rights. Then in 2013 the building works started and in June 2014 we moved in.”  She remembers the emotion of the moment, “When I entered my home for the first time the first thing I did was give thanks to God.  It was a long fight, with many tears, but now all I feel is gratitude.  My son couldn’t believe it.  We used to live in a tiny room with a bathroom outside.  When he saw his own bedroom he could not believe it.” 

Claudete now has a home, and like other families in these apartments she is paying a mortgage at a level she is able to afford, but she continues to support other homeless families still struggling to access decent and sustainable housing.

To find out more information and sign up to Connect2: Brazil go to: cafod.org.uk/connect2

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Harvest Fast Day: Building a brighter future in El Salvador

Gemma in El Salvador.

Gemma in El Salvador.

Gemma Salter is on our schools team and produces resources for primary schools.

When I read the papers or the news online, I often find myself looking out for stories from places I’ve visited, or countries that CAFOD partners work in. This happened to me recently, when I came across an article from El Salvador. This one was a striking one – it spoke of the high rates of murder and gang conflict in the country, describing it as the ‘homicide capital of the world’.

Whilst I know gangs and violence are a significant challenge in the country, and I saw this for myself when I visited El Salvador, the article still shocked me. It made me think back to my own trip to El Salvador, where I met eight-year-old Diego and spent time getting to know him and his family.

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Climate change: We lobbied MPs, what now?

This is a guest blog from the Climate Coalition, CAFOD supporters joined people from development, environmental and community organisations from across the UK in the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up For The Love Of mass climate lobby of parliament on 17 June.

The UK can still lead on climate change – but we need to see positive action at home

On June 17th, thousands of people from around the country flocked to Westminster to meet their MPs. At over 430 meetings, our leaders were asked to support strong climate action to protect all the things we love that could be lost to climate change.

It was an inspiring day of action, and hundreds of MPs sat up and took notice of a powerful public voice calling for climate action. That evening, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd expressed support for the lobby, and her hope for an ambitious global deal at the UN climate talks in December. But in the wake of recent announcements, many will be asking where is this government’s credible low carbon plan essential for delivering the change we want to see in this country and for providing the credibility for international leadership.

Lancaster dioceses supporters at Speak Up For The Love Of

Lancaster dioceses supporters at Speak Up For The Love Of

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Hands On: Strengthening bonds

Aichatou Abani is the Integrated Food Security Project Coordinator working on our latest Hands On project in Doutchi, Niger.

Aichatou is working on our latest Hands On project in Doutchi, Niger.

Aichatou Abani is the Integrated Food Security Project Coordinator working on our latest Hands On project in Doutchi, Niger.

My role in the project is to coordinate and manage all the activities: from the preparation, to implementation and evaluation.

The biggest challenge for people in Niger is food security and hunger. It has unfortunately become an ongoing problem in the last few years and is affecting a lot of people.

Involving the community

There has been a strong involvement of the community right from the start in terms of planning this project. We have held awareness-raising sessions to help everyone develop ownership of the goals.

Connect with the people of Doutchi

Following these sessions we have now begun the project and we have carried out certain activities, notably holding meetings with community members to share information with them, and at the same time to get information from them about how we can improve the plans.

We feel that the community knows where it is and where it wants to go. The awareness raising work we have done has really helped the community understand the importance of everything that they have received in support. It’s been a really important piece of work.

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