Fortaleza is the capital of the state of Ceará, located in the north-eastern region of Brazil. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city welcomed migrants of several nationalities, including Portuguese and a large community of Lebanese and Syrians. Although it was born during the occupation by Dutch Protestants, Fortaleza retains a strong Catholic character.
The city has a tropical climate with high rainfall and humidity except during the dry season from August to December. It is the third city in Brazil to be declared a health disaster due to the arrival of the pandemic in 2020. The number of infected people and deaths is alarming. Government measures to slow down the contagion have economically destabilised a large part of the population, increasing unemployment and poverty.
The most vulnerable, having had to leave their homes suddenly, have joined the many homeless living on the streets or under the viaducts of the great capital, too often in the general indifference of society.
On the occasion of the second World Day of the Poor in 2018 and then the Covid-19 pandemic that drastically affected the city, the Daughters of Charity felt the strong desire to act more with their suffering brothers and sisters.
"They will have the streets of the city as their cloister" (C. 12).
This phrase of our founder St. Vincent de Paul has taken shape as the most beautiful expression of the audacity of charity in times of pandemic, where the law is distress and wandering.
Already affected by extreme poverty, this population of excluded people cruelly lacks the sanitary means to protect themselves from the virus, an aggravating factor in contamination and death.
"These are homeless people, alone or with relatives, living in promiscuity, without any protection or privacy. How can you protect yourself when you don't even have a home that allows you to respect social distancing measures? Access to hygiene materials and water is practically non-existent. The shelters that house this social segment are usually overcrowded, which is an additional source of contamination", says Sister Patrícia
"FRANCHIR LA PORTA"
The Rosalie Projects propose to support these men, women and children for whom living on the street, washing themselves, cleaning their clothes, eating and sleeping are a real challenge.
"Living on the street involves daily obstacles such as solitude, hygiene difficulties and promiscuity. Searching for places to distribute food, looking for a leaky pipe that would become a fountain for personal hygiene, which is the best place to spend the day and which is the best place to sleep. It is a gruelling survival course" (testimony of a homeless man - R.S. A).
The project "A shower of charity" is an initiative of the Daughters of Charity of the Province of Fortaleza which proposes to help those in need, while relying on the help of volunteers.
The sisters' community has already acquired two converted "trailers" containing six showers (three for men and three for women) which operate by means of a gas-powered compressor.
The purchase of these trailers was organised thanks to a donation from a group of doctors in the city of Fortaleza, amounting to €9,800.
These mobile showers were manufactured locally and were prepared for a capacity of 6,000 litres of water, which allows for approximately 200 showers per night, each lasting 6 minutes. They are also equipped with a wastewater collection tank and the waste is then disposed of in a sanitary way.
Vincentian outreach activities take place three nights a week. The Daughters of Charity and the volunteers involved drive the trailers to places where there is a high concentration of homeless people who are in vital need of care and hygiene.
"In addition to a shower, we offer them soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a razor, a towel and clean clothes, bandages and medication for minor aches and pains. All of this will be done with your donations. It is through these actions that we put into practice the missionary zeal and the audacity of Charity.
"We serve them with gentleness and cordiality, devoting to them the same affection and efficiency as our founding saints".
A big thank you to you for helping them to regain their self-esteem
and to perceive the transformation that a DIGITAL SHOWER can bring in the life of these fragile people.
I am from the Province of Fortaleza in Brazil. I have 15 years of vocation. Since 2003, we have been working with the homeless and, in times of pandemic, we have reinvented our service with the "Vincentian shower" project, which offers hygiene opportunities to this population.
Today, it is estimated that 5,000 people are living below the poverty line by wandering the streets. We, the Daughters of Charity, are encouraged by the daily meditation of our Charter, which invites us to have only one goal: "to cloister the streets of the city", which allows us to meet one of the most growing miseries of our country.