From Belo's Co-Founder, Maria shares her personal views on the effects of the pandemic in Brazil, acts of kindness and an update on our Brazilian Team.
We live in uncertain, scary times, especially if you come from a Third World country. When everything started to get serious in Europe, I was in the UK, and I hit my knees. I couldn't stop thinking about the poor - 58.8 million Brazilians - and the people that live below the poverty line in Brazil - 13.6 million people. What was going to happen to them? Who is going to rescue them? What will happen to Casa de Maria? So many questions, and as a Third World country citizen, I know too well the answer won't come from the government.
Anxiety, anguish and helplessness overwhelmed me. I always try to put myself on other people's shoes, balance everything I am feeling on the uneven scale of the reality of those less fortunate than myself. And that made me question who was I to feel all those feelings since I am so privileged. After talking to my fiancé, Charlotte and my mum, they all basically said the same thing: SURRENDER. Surrender to your emotions, the fear and the pain all of this is causing to the world because you can't remove it.
After a lot of meditation, reflecting on my role in all of this, I realized that I cannot heal the world, but I CAN feel compassion and do my best to help those around me. So, I decided to TAKE ACTION - just like we do at From Belo.
The government issued a statement saying they will help the poor and in need with the equivalent of 100 pounds a month- which is far from being enough. But, it will take some time until they can get this money. Most of these people don't have any credit or savings to wait a month or two to receive it.
I researched ways that I can help those vulnerable people in Brazil (found beautiful projects that I will share with you below)—called Dona Nilza from Casa de Maria, our manufacturer and our artisan, Wartley, to see if they needed any help.
Here is an update of the people we work closely with:
Our talented team are not working at this time, but everyone is safe at home and they are earning their regular wage.
Wartley - responsible for weaving the Cida tote bag and the Lucia tote bag
We outsource Wartley's work, which means we pay per fabric made. We know we he survives weekly by going to markets and showcasing his work. With everyone in quarantine, he doesn't have any income. When I called, he told me his power was cut off, he didn't have any money to feed his dogs and was doing what he could to feed his two children. So Charlotte and I decided to give him some money in advance to help him through this tough time. We are also asking friends and family for small donations to top up the money we gave him so he can survive these two months of uncertainty.
Casa de Maria - our partner Charity that supports the homeless and in need
All the volunteers are in the risk group - most of them, above 65 years old, and some have diabetes and heart diseases. So, they had to close the charity for the time being, but they are working closely with leaders of those poor communities to deliver basic food packages - enough to last a month - for the families in need.
People in those communities are scared and fearful of how they are going to survive during the quarantine. So, the leaders of these communities gathered and started a crowdfunding campaign - which we donated to - to raise funds for the community to go through this challenging time, especially with food and hygiene products.
If you would like to learn more and contribute CLICK HERE.
Also, all of the purchases at From Belo donates meals at Casa de Maria and we will be more active than ever helping Dona Nilza deliver them during this tough time.
If you talk to a Brazilian person that is privileged enough not live day to day without knowing if they will have a roof or food on the table, they will tell you the same thing: I worry for the poor. And just like me, people are trying to turn this anguish into action. I found out that there are amazing kind people out there doing their best to take care of the ones in need:
1) There is a crowdfunding initiative in Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte is where From Belo and myself are from - that already reached their initial target to provide basic food packages for vulnerable families to last 3 months.
If you would like to donate or find out more CLICK HERE.
2) National Project to Feed those in need.
There is also a national project that aims to donate 1 million basic food packages for 3 months to 50 thousand poor communities around Brazil.
If you would like to donate or find out more CLICK HERE.
3) Local Crowdfunding
And last but dearest to my heart, it is the crowdfunding to help the candy men and popcorn men in my old school in Belo Horizonte. For people outside Brazil, this might sound odd, but the most common characters at any school are the people that sell popcorn, candy, sweets, food outside the gates after or before school hours. We basically stay in the same school from 6 years old to when we are 18 years old. These people became part of our lives and in some cases, the candy men from when you were younger are still there for your children! They are as present in our lives as teachers. And with all the closures, they have no income. So, we all decided to crowdfund enough money for them to survive for the next 3 months. We have raised more than our initial target in less than a week!
With all the fear and uncertainty, one thing I take from all of this is that the power of kindness is undeniable. Even in developing countries like Brazil, where crisis like these hits us harder, people are willing to sacrifice a bit of their own savings and security to help others.
I hope we all come out stronger and united.
Please stay safe and be kind.