Concerned with the situation of social vulnerability and the risk of contagion and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic among the street population of Fortaleza – CE (Brazil), the Shalom Catholic Community created the “Shalom Friend of the Poor” project. On Tuesday, April 28, the Community opened the doors of some of its evangelization centers to welcome and serve as a place of support for homeless people of all ages.
At the place, in addition to the reception, meals are offered, water for hydration, space for personal hygiene, washing clothes, distribution of personal protective equipment, as well as an awareness service about the experience of quarantine and social isolation as ways to combat the Coronavirus. The goal is to serve at least 500 people per day, including informal workers and passersby who wait at least one meal a day, who are in the center of Fortaleza.
Jeovana Freitas, Human Promotion Advisor for the Shalom Community, and general coordinator of the project, explains that the service locations will also serve to spiritually assist residents with prayers, evangelization and counseling. In addition, several teams of volunteers formed by doctors, nurses, social workers, as well as professionals from other specialties will periodically offer the street office service with consultations and referrals to public health and social services.
Social inn, social rental and emergency plans
The “Shalom Friend of the Poor” project will also assist the government in promoting welcoming and effective social isolation for people living on the street in the equipment provided by the Municipality, such as the social inn, social rent and other emergency plans in the Municipality that already exist .
“Pope Francis has invited, since the beginning of the pandemic, all of us to have the courage to get involved with those who need it most. There are many people in need on the streets and we need to do our part as Christians. We want that the phrase “Stay at Home” to also include the poorest. We want that in this time of pandemic there are no inequalities and that we can promote dignity for these ours brothers”, said Jeovana.
Jeovana also explains that the appointments will take place initially at the John Paul II House, in the neighborhood of Fátima, and at Saint Francis, in the Center. “Later on, we will open more spaces according to the emergency needs of the pandemic moment,” explained the missionary. The venues will operate from Sunday to Sunday, from 9am to 2pm.
Volunteers and Donations
The project has the support of about 140 volunteers, who will help with the demands of food distribution, hygiene, sorting, spirituality, group activities, laundry and socializing moments. For people who want to participate in the project as a volunteer, just go to the amigodospobres.org website and sign up.
The “Shalom Friend of the Poor” project also needs donations and financial resources. Donation forms and delivery points are available on the website. According to Jeovana Freitas, the project is initially in need of food, clothing, general and personal hygiene products, as well as blankets, towels, masks and gloves.
In the last census conducted in Fortaleza, still by the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger in 2014, the street population totaled 1718 people. Because of the political, economic and social crisis that the country has faced until today, experts believe that the numbers have tripled.
Translation: Beatriz Duarte