Sunday, May 20, 2012

"You are this family's only hope." - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Though Cause & Affect Foundation usually focuses their efforts on community-run projects, sometimes we encounter individual families in such distress that we feel obliged to help. Such a situation arose when my sister Julia and I were in Rocinha, the largest favela shanty-town in Latin America.
Situated on a hilltop overlooking Rio de Janeiro’s most posh neighborhoods, Rocinha is a community of around 150,000 people, many of which struggle on a daily basis to get by. While speaking to the director of a local non-profit, we discovered the sad story of Alessandra and her two children, Pedro (4 years old) and Moises (11 months). Forced to leave her home after her step-father sexually abused her Alessandra landed on the streets and without access to contraception, she soon found herself with two children. Fortunately, with the help of this local non-profit, the family was housed in a makeshift home inside the favela. WATCH Field Report Video HERE
Though the living conditions were far from optimal, it was much safer than living on the dangerous streets. But misfortune continued to haunt the family. As Alessandra explains in the video, their fan short-circuited, resulting in a fire that forced them to flee. Fortunately, they were able to escape through the window, but not before all of their worldly possessions were destroyed.
All of their belongings (including her documents that allowed her to receive government assistance) were destroyed. When we visited the now burned-out home, the family still living within the smoke-stained walls, we jumped into action in an effort to improve their perilous living situation. For starters, working with the same non-profit, we were able to find them another home. We have helped her secure her new documents so she can now receive her monthly assistance. WATCH Field Report Video HERE
We then set out to purchase the basic items the family needs to survive, by spending $600 from small shops within the community. We were able to maximize our purchasing power by purchasing a used refrigerator and stove as well as new mattresses, sheets, pillows, cleaning supplies, pots, pans, plates, silverware, as well as basic food stuffs and kitchen supplies. As you can see from these images, we were able to purchase an amazing amount of supplies with this modest sum, which will allow this family to lead a much healthier lifestyle and provide these children with cleaner air to breathe and the nutrition they will need to excel in school. Thank you to all of our wonderful donors and special thanks to my sister Julia, who raised money for this and other C&A projects and helped administer these funds. WATCH Field Report Video HERE To assist Cause & Affect in our ongoing efforts, please visit our Give page here. Thank you!

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