A closer look at the community of our artisans in Brazil.
We always talk about our artisans, our partner charity and their community but we realized we never actually showed you where they come from!
Favela Alto Vera Cruz photo taken by Jornal O Globo
Have you ever heard the term Favela?
Favela, in Brazil, a slum or shantytown located within or on the outskirts of the country’s large cities, like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. A favela typically comes into being when squatters occupy vacant land at the edge of a city. There’s a good reason favelas are colloquially referred to as morros. Many favelas are located on steep hillsides and after Brazil abolished slavery in the late 1800s, former African slaves gathered in settlements, creating these cities within the city. The economic stabilization of the 1990s and the growth of the 2000s allowed the improvement of living conditions in these areas. Through the years, some favelas become urbanized, they receive infrastructure from the councils, such as energy, running water, pavement and sewage.
Nowadays, 12 million people are living in favelas across Brazil. According to FGV, they are responsible for generating R$38.6 billion per year in commercial activity, which is equivalent, for example, to the GDP of Bolivia. In 2001, 60% of favela residents belonged to the lower class and 37% to the middle class. By 2018, 32% were considered poor and 65% in the lower middle class (the Brazilian middle class has a different meaning from the European middle class). So much of Brazilian national culture comes from the favelas - from music to fashion.
Welcome to Cafezal
Cafezal, Belo Horizonte photo taken by O Comandante
Our partner charity, Casa de Maria, and most of our artisans come from Cafezal - Belo Horizonte's biggest favela with 50 thousand inhabitants. There, we see the various urban deficiencies of the informal city: land tenure irregularity, insufficient sanitation and garbage collection, violence and lack of public spaces.
But we also see several reasons for optimism.
Casa de Maria volunteers - Cida, Dona Nilza, BomBom and Sonia
The community has leaders, like Dona Nilza - Casa de Maria's owner - who are mobilized and in constant dialogue with the council to ensure that they are not overlooked in the plans for works and services. They show so much creativity and resilience in dealing with day-to-day difficulties, creating their businesses and improving their homes without waiting passively for government solutions.
Cafezal and Covid-19.
Although Covid-19 has been a massive challenge in Favelas around Brazil, the community of Cafezal came together through crowdfunding and the help of charities to ensure donations of food, cleaning products and masks are distributed amongst the ones that needed the most. Some of the seamstresses that we work with came up with a project of making masks out of fabric offcuts.
If you would like to help them, go to: https://evoe.cc/ladafavelinha
What does From Belo do to help Cafezal?
Photo taken in 2017 when Char met Dona Nilza and Casa de Maria for the first time. From left to right: Dona Nilza, Maria, Char and Cida.
We want kindness to be in every stitch of our products that is why we are incredibly proud to rise while lifting the community of Cafezal.
Apart from ethically working with talented artisans through fair wages and appropriate working conditions to make our beautiful accessories, so far, we have donated 3850 plates of food via Casa de Maria and funded training to psychologists who work with victims of domestic violence in the community via our partner charity Não Era Amor.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know a little bit more of our From Belo family. Either write a comment or get back to us in an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a beautiful day!
Char and Maria