Aracati is a city in the state of Ceará (Brazil) on the border with the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
It is one of the country's important tourist destinations, rich in red cliffs lining the beaches and in architectural heritage. However, sexual exploitation (including underage prostitution) and the number of people who survive by collecting rubbish are a sad side effect of the region.
The Daughters of Charity work in the São José Institute, first established in 1934 to educate the children of poor families in Aracati. Over time, a second branch of the institution was created to train young adults and help them escape from poverty.
"Even today the mission of the Daughters of Charity is more than necessary, 74% of the households in the city live below the poverty line. We support them through food aid programmes and access to healthcare and training." Sister Ana Lúcia, project leader
The services offered by the sisters are assisted by 60 lay volunteers from the Association of the Miraculous Medal and the Vincentian Marian Youth, aged between 15 and 68.
Due to low economic growth and rising unemployment, the country is struggling to stem poverty.
Already suffering from food insecurity, child malnutrition, the impact of drought and soil and water pollution, many families are plunged into poverty.
While waiting to re-enter the labour market, many people prefer to survive by collecting recyclable waste directly from the city's open dump. The dangerous conditions in which they work are the cause of many accidents (an estimated 1.4 million Brazilians survive on waste).
The sisters are concerned about their safety and want to protect them from everyday hazards such as sharp injuries and burns from toxic products.
This project will provide them with protective equipment and basic hygiene products, which have become far too expensive for them.
It will complement the food and medical assistance already provided by the sisters to ease the reality of these families.
200 people in extremely vulnerable situations will benefit from this project, not including children.
With them, thanks to you
My name is Sister Ana Lúcia Piteira de Carvalho, Daughter of Charity with 25 years of vocation. I have worked in the Province of Amazonia in various missions and in the educational service.
At present, I am at the service of the Province of Fortaleza as a Sister Servant of the Community of St. Joseph of Aracati and Director of the St. Joseph School Institute.
Together with the Association of the Miraculous Medal and other branches of the Vincentian Family (VMY and AIC), we are developing a work with the most deprived communities, among them the Collectors of Recyclable Materials, which began on 20 July 2019.