In November 2019, Pope Francis blessed a large building that had belonged to the Vatican since 1930 and transformed it into a space to receive homeless people, offering dormitory services and food for the vulnerable. The former Palace of the Best, as the building was known, became the Palace of the Minors.
Over 7,000 kilometers from Rome, in Fortaleza, Brazil, the Shalom Friend of the Poor Project builds a new St. Francis House for people on the streets. The new space is being called the Palace of the Poor, all built thanks to many volunteers who are in the front line of the project.
“The history of this project started at NLPX – architecture office located in Fortaleza, Brazil – as soon as we returned to the office right after the quarantine. Mariana Fiúza, from Diagonal Engenharia, called me making an irrefutable invitation to participate in the construction of the Saint Francis House. The idea was to build a space that could favor the reinsertion of homeless people into society,” reports Priscila Ximenes of NLPX.
Businesswoman Mariana Fiúza tells that Diagonal has always had a dream of making a social project. “In this pandemic, God inspired us to take this project off paper. Today the house is becoming a reality,” celebrates Mariana, who together with other partners is preparing the new space.
Adalgisa Sá, the consecrated of the Alliance Community, responsible for the Shalom Friend of the Poor Project in Fortaleza, follows closely all the construction from the beginning. “We started right at the beginning of the pandemic with the delivery of packed lunch, there were more than 70 thousand dishes distributed, besides items of hygiene and clothing donation. We felt the impulse to go to the rescue of our most needy brothers. In front of this construction, all our gratitude to the architects of NLPX and Diagonal, who together are building this beautiful space. When we saw the project we were delighted and moved. We said: ‘well, this is our palace, the Shalom Friend of the Poor Palace “, he recalls.
Architect Mayara Magda explains that the San Francisco House was divided into four main areas. “Spiritual environment, health, food and that of resocialization. I was responsible for the health area, a space composed of three rooms for clinical and general care,” she says.
Renata Mont’alverne, architect, was responsible for the cafeteria. “Before they were distributed packed lunch in the city squares. Now the people assisted by the project will have an appropriate place for that. It needed to be a welcoming space where they could feel supported”.
Lorena Peixoto, also an architect, testifies that it’s very pleasant to be part of this project, besides knowing that they are helping to change lives. “I think it’s important that this project appeared in 2020, such a difficult year, so turbulent for so many people, where many people needed support and where we needed to practice our empathy more”, she reflects.
“There is nothing more rewarding than working from Sunday to Sunday to deliver the San Francis House in the best way possible, to give a home to those in need”, celebrates Karoline Ferraz, from Diagonal Engenharia.