Over 25 families have already received necessary food supply for a whole month. They could not have afforded buying it themselves; with many of them having lost their usual income during the current pandemic.
Emanuel Lima has decided to keep contributing despite the pandemic’s self-isolation, in order to help others, and keeping in mind the safety procedures needed. Lima is one of the founders of “Heroes of Joy”, a group of dedicated friends-turned-volonteers, all determined to do something for the local community.
For Emanuel, every small assistance counts:
“In one day we were able to provide food for 15 families – if other groups do the same, we can help more and more families facing difficulties.”
The group has no financial support; so all the contributions come from local business owners and volunteers. However, they deal with judgment on social media for exposing their results, as some people doubt the real intentions behind social work exposed online.
The founder has assured that they are used to dealing with the criticism and that they post to raise people’s awareness and get more donations.
Emanuel highlights the importance of being kind and taking into consideration different people’s backgrounds during this pandemic:
“Not everybody has a stable professional life, we have to consider that some people are unemployed or still need to work to have access to their basic needs”, he said.
As an example, he remembered helping a family consisting of a jobless mother with eight children at home to feed.
The idea goes back to a time before Covid-19. In 2018, Emanuel Lima was having a challenging year when he came across the idea of doing community service to help people and feel more personally motivated.
He pitched the idea for his friends Augusto Gastão and Marília Alves; and together they created the “Heros of Joy” group.
At the beginning of 2019, they started visiting hospitals and asylums dressed as famous TV characters such as super-heroes and princesses to donate supplies, entertain and bring happiness to those who were ill and isolated.
Brazilian measures to help the population
Since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, the government has been providing the “Emergency Aid” benefit of 600 reais (£83 – which is less than the minimum wage of R$ 1,035 (£143) established in 2020). It lasts for three months and is valid for individual microentrepreneurs; for informal, self-employed or unemployed workers. Only families that have an income of not more than R$ 3.135,00 (£434) can apply for the benefit. Over 27 million Brazilians (out of a population of 209 million) have already applied for the benefit; and 46.2 million have received it so far.
The distribution of the benefit has been a touchy topic as many people with good income have applied and been approved to receive it, while some people experiencing real difficulties do not fit the assistance’s rules or have not been approved to get it.
For an interview with a local newspaper “Folha de São Paulo”, the lawyer João Rassi assured that applying for getting the income without being entitled to it may be judged as an ideological falsehood and embezzlement offense.
Other examples of volunteer work across Brazil during the pandemic
Emanuel Lima and his frieds are not alone in providing local help. Along with the difficulties, this pandemic has installed in many people a sense of compassion, a desire to help, with many community initiatives that have been developed across the country.
In the state of Rio de Janeiro, the government’s Culture and Creative Economic department created a project called “Telephoned stories”, which allows poets, musicians, and story-tellers to spend their time telling stories to those who feel lonely during isolation. In ten days only, over 1,485 people have signed in to be called.
In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the initiative “CoronaVirus Help” created a website to help people during the isolation. 950 volunteers registered and among the services, there are psychologists offering follow-ups, designers who are willing to create websites for microentrepreneurs and many different kinds of online classes.
The NGO “Friends from Minas” gives support for the cities with the lowest Human Development Index in the state of Minas Gerais since 2001 and is now receiving monetary donations and products via the website.