Courage and solidarity in complexo da Maré

14/05/2020 – Residents of Rio de Janeiro have been following social distancing measures since the middle of March. While this is essential to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, for many people, including those living in the Complexo da Maré favela where Luta pela Paz (Fight for Peace in Brazil) is located, it has also presented a number of serious difficulties.

For those who depend on leaving their homes to work and make a living, lockdown has meant that they are unable to earn the money they require to buy essentials like food and hygiene products. This is compounded by water shortages, which are common in Maré, and which make preventative measures like hand and clothes washing particularly difficult.

In response to this, Luta pela Paz has been supporting families to protect against COVID-19 through the #CoragemSolidária campaign. This campaign raises funds through donations and, in partnership with local community-based organisation Redes da Maré, distributes drinking water, food and personal hygiene products to vulnerable families and at risk groups.

One of the features of the campaign, which closely follows World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, is the Maré card. These cards, which are distributed among residents of Maré and charged with money donated to the campaign, can be used to buy everyday essentials – stimulating the local economy while protecting against the spread of the coronavirus via cash transactions.

The campaign has grown rapidly and is being supported by a number of high profile Brazilian journalists, musicians and personalities including Carol Barcellos, Ana Paula Araújo, Cris Dias, Natiruts, Marcelo Courrege, Alex Escobar, Felipe Andreoli and Fernanda Gentil.

The solidarity and collective spirit shown by the 468 members of the public who have so far donated to the campaign has seen 116 families – almost 350 people – supported to date. This has meant that members of the Luta pela Paz family like Monica* and Luana*, and their loved ones, have access to essential food and hygiene products without leaving their homes.

Monica’s children, along with Luana, are also able to continue participating in Luta pela Paz programmes through the roll out of activities online.  Every week, Luta pela Paz members receive education and personal development activities created by support services staff and educators.

In addition, combat sports workouts are delivered throughout the week which young people can get involved in, while specialist staff remain on hand to provide any pyscho-social support required by young people.

In the coming days and weeks, with the help of those supporting the campaign,  #CoragemSolidária will continue to distribute food and essentials to those who need it most, supporting families to stay safe and combat the spread of the coronavirus.

*The name of this person has been changed to protect their privacy.