Times are always bad for the poor. But in Brazil today, things are terrible with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s easy to feel like such problems are intractable but there are ways that you can help.
If you’ve been learning Portuguese, you can improve your skills at the same time as helping the people of Brazil. I have created a free Portuguese mini-course to help raise money to support Brazilian families living in favelas as part of the Panela Cheia Salva campaign.
Read on to find out more about the course and the situation in Brazil.
Improve Your Portuguese and Help the Poorest Brazilians
If you’ve been learning Portuguese for a while you might be asking yourself when you will be able to visit Brazil. You might have been wondering what the real situation in Brazil is and how long it will take for the country to be back to its previous state.
Well, knowing that the previous state was not great, might cause you to ask yourself how to be part of the transformation this country you love so much deserves.
To jump-start your involvement with this positive cycle of change, my free course asks students to donate what they can to Panela Cheia.
This is a 7-day course designed for intermediate and advanced level students to help them sound more natural in Portuguese and to connect with Brazilian people and the Brazilian culture.
It gives students the chance to learn how Portuguese is actually spoken day to day in Brazil, rather than Portuguese found in a grammar book.
The course covers:
- Improving pronunciation
- Learning phrases and idioms to sound more Brazilian
- Learning how to structure Portuguese naturally
- Study tips and recommendations
- Access to a wide range of resources including videos, online exercises, audios and quizzes.
There’s no minimum amount and every donation counts.
The Problems of Brazil’s Poorest?
Brazil has a well-deserved reputation as a tropical paradise. But there has always been a darker side to this. And the situation has only gotten worse under the current administration.
In spite of this, there are people ready to stand taller than this pandemic and other even older problems. If you’re ready too, you can improve your Portuguese and help these initiatives at the same time.
Where the challenges are bigger, the solutions are bolder. So not surprisingly these initiatives came from the favelas.
What are favelas?
Image cropped from Inside Rocinha Favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2010 by Chensiyuan under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Favelas are basically our equivalent of the slums found throughout South America. But there are some things that are unique about them.
Favelas are the direct heir of colonial slavery. When Brazil officially abolished slavery only 130 years ago, the men and women who were suddenly considered free had no place to go but the suburbs of the cities where they hoped to find work.
These new communities found themselves a place to build their own housing with no support from the government in terms of planning or infrastructure. Over a century later, the results of this continued neglect are clear to see.
Favelas are the places where the poorest people in urban areas live. They are where the lowest standards of living can be found thanks to a structural and systematic disenfranchisement of these communities.
The lack of investment and planning translates into more problems, like higher rates of teenage pregnancy and school evasion. These then turn individual problems into intergenerational ones.
The Pandemic Made the Bad Situation Worse
This complicated situation got worse around one year ago when we had the first cases of coronavirus.
Once Covid hit the favelas, the government had to act fast. Many families lost their incomes overnight. Measures had to be taken lest the problem spread to the whole country and not remain an “invisible” issue facing the poor.
But the century-old problems of the favelas weren’t suddenly solved once Covid came around. Financial emergency relief was passed in congress and for a few months in 2020 families received the equivalent of around USD 200.
This income alone was said to have decreased inequality to historical records and helped many families have enough food during the first wave of cases. But once the relief was halted, this effect was reversed and nowadays we have over 80 million people living in poverty. This is around nine million more than before the pandemic.
And the death toll marched steadily upwards. As the country approached the dreadful mark of 500.000 dead, the government was forced to do something. Sadly this new round of benefits is way smaller and for a shorter period of time than the previous set of benefits.
What is being done on the ground?
Given the size of the crisis, big names in the fight against inequality rose to the occasion and have been mobilizing the country. One of the many great NGOs that deserve your attention is Gerando Falcões.
Gerando Falcões has worked in Brazil’s favelas for over 10 years now. It runs transformative initiatives and projects there, focusing particularly on qualifications, sport, culture, and income generation for young people and adolescents.
Its founder, Edu Lyra, grew up in a favela in Guarulhos, close to São Paulo.
He has recently begun working on the idea of a “smart slum.” This project aims to reduce poverty in the favelas and make it a thing of the past. It involves replacing makeshift homes with sustainable housing, bringing digital training to adults, and empowering women through entrepreneurship.
Goods and services would come from within the community itself. What is created will feed back into the community in a positive cycle of growth. Ultimately Gerando Falcões projects aim to reduce the levels of poverty and violence through creating opportunities in these communities.
During the pandemic, Gerando Falcões has been working in collaboration with two other NGOs — CUFA and Frente Nacional Antiracista — as part of the Panela Cheia Salva campaign. This campaign has been set up to provide extra support to Brazilian families living in favelas.
The pandemic brings a terrible Catch-22 scenario for so many people. They have to choose between going out to work — putting themselves, their families, and their communities at risk — or staying at home but having no money to feed their families. For families who were already living in poverty at the best of times, the pandemic brings an even more perilous situation.
The Panela Cheia campaign raises money to purchase food parcels for the most vulnerable families in more than 5,000 communities all across Brazil. The campaign reports that without food donations 8 out of 10 families living in favelas would not have been fed during the pandemic. This is the sad reality for poor families in Brazil — and the continuation of the pre-pandemic reality.
This campaign deals with the immediate need for food as a result of the pandemic, which is so sorely needed. But hopefully, it will also bring a realization that this is the daily reality for a lot of people, with or without the pandemic. It needs a sustainable solution in the long-term once the world is back to “normal.”
Brazil Needs Your Help
It’s a good time to improve your Portuguese and I think you will find my course useful. But you can also simply donate to the Panela Cheia campaign. Do what you can. Every donation counts. The course is still here when you have time.
Vlad is a modern nomad, multi-language content creator, and online teacher that does his best to show his students, readers, and friends the joys and countless benefits of language learning.