Spotlight on Brazil: young leaders speak up for our common home

9 August 2016

The Olympics are now underway in Rio and every day new stars are being made. But this summer we are also shining a light on the urban, rural and indigenous communities in Brazil who have been left behind by development.

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Many Brazilians suffer extreme hardship in rural areas and migrate to cities like São Paulo in search of a better life. Yet once in the cities, families often end up living in rundown tenements, on the streets or in informal settlements, known as favelas.

Making a difference

“At the beginning, the favela houses were made from cardboard. Most of the favelas didn’t have electricity or running water, and human waste used to run down the street” says Maristely, a young leader with our partner Movement for the Defence of Favelas (MDF) in São Paulo, Brazil.

Maristely and her community have been supported by our partner MDF who have been helping favela residents stand up for their rights.

“First we got the authorities to pave the streets. Then they sorted out the sewage, water and electricity”.

Watch the film above to find out more about our work in São Paulo, and to be inspired by Maristely, who campaigns with her community and other favela communities to improve their living conditions.

Inspirational young leaders

Maristely is just one of many inspiring young leaders that work with our partners to improve and protect our common home. 

“In the community meetings we talk about urbanisation, land rights, water, electricity, sewage, and also families being evicted from their homes” she says.  

“Being a part of MDF has given me a lot of good things, like awareness of my dignity as a person and critical thinking. What I think is that, yes, I live in a favela, but because of my perseverance I live in a better place and we are recognised for that”.

São Paulo is Brazil’s biggest city, home to 11 million people (for comparison, London’s population is 8.6 million). CAFOD’s partner in São Paulo, MDF, works with the poorest people in 40 favelas across the sprawling city.

Find out more about our work in Brazil

MDF is supporting communities in various immediate and long-term ways, and progress is being made. Many families such as Maristely’s have now secured the certificate of ownership for their property. This means Maristely and her family can no longer be evicted and lose their home.

“If it wasn’t for MDF we wouldn’t have the benefits we have today” she explains.

Be inspired by Maristely’s story to Speak Up for our common home

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