CESE reinforces its support to projects and fundraising campaigns helping movements to resist the pandemic
By Luana Almeida
Latin America has achieved the global distinction of being the current epicentre of the pandemic – and, according to the World Health Organization, Brazil is the country of greatest concern. As at the end of August, the country had surpassed 121,000 deaths from coronavirus, with a record number of 3.86 million infected people according to WHO.
The sanitary, political and economic crisis arising from the pandemic particularly affects the livelihoods and existence of the most vulnerable populations. Currently, approximately 13.5 million Brazilians live in poverty and the economic crisis provoked by coronavirus will leave a trail of increasing poverty and inequality in the country. By the end of the first quarter of 2020, up to 1.2 million more people were unemployed, a 1.3 percentage increase. In the first quarter the rise of unemployment was at 12.2 percent. A survey by Boa Vista SCPC shows that 52 % of Brazilian families will not be able to pay bills in the ensuing months. In the city of São Paulo, the number of daily meals served by Servico Franciscano de Solidariedade a Franciscan charitable service rose from 50 in March to 2,500 in May.
The Bolsonaro government’s neglect in addressing the pandemic is appalling. The President systematically minimizes the seriousness of the issue, encourages and participates in crowds, has sacked successive health ministers and has clashed with mayors and governors who follow WHO guidance to minimize the impact of COVID-19.
Furthermore, the Bolsonaro government’s lack of preparation in making emergency aid payments during the pandemic is also of grave concern. The government initially proposed a payment of BRL 200.00 (37 USD), which they were forced to increase to BRL 600.00 (112 USD), due to pressure from social movements and opposition parties. Then the law to authorize payments was delayed. Records now show that a little over 1/3 of Brazilians who requested emergency payments have not even received their first instalment.
Historically, vulnerable populations in the countryside and the city (such as the black population, traditional peoples, indigenous peoples and black women) are the most affected by the pandemic. As well as having minimal access to public health services, basic sanitation, and the guarantee food and food security, the majority are informal workers who have lost their source of income due to the social isolation measures.
How do we change this?
“This whole crisis has refocused our vision and our action”
CESE continues to support initiatives from grassroots movements that focus on the struggle for resistance and the guarantee of rights. CESE is now prioritizing emergency and humanitarian initiatives to combat the advance of the coronavirus. Through the Change the Game Academy programme, support to projects and campaigns to build fundraising and advocacy skills are now taking place.
Inspired by the new content in the “Navigating COVID-19” page of the Change the Game portal, throughout May and June, CESE has been campaigning to encourage fundraising and mobilising support for grassroots movements fighting the pandemic.
Based on mass dissemination through social networks, with videos containing fundraising and advocacy tips and guidance- which you can find here, CESE expects to strengthen organizations, enabling them to get through this crisis period and cope with its effect on their institutional management and sustainability. Tools are: inspiring cases, practical exercises, theoretical content, a virtual library and distance learning activities.
For Sônia Mota, CESE’s Executive Director, the new sanitary and humanitarian crisis once again places the theme of human rights and the defence of life at the centre of discussions. The important work undertaken by organizations for human rights must be focused on vulnerable communities, now more than ever: “This whole crisis has refocused our vision and our action, through support to projects, dialogue and networking, as well as in the area of training. Our concern about the most vulnerable populations in this epidemic crisis has deepened, which is why, as well as activities for immediate aid, it is important to continue strengthening the struggle for rights and resistance to the mistakes and abuses that are occurring in the Brazilian political scene, in order to counter the pandemic,” she explained.
Through this campaign, whose objective is to both train and encourage grassroots movements to access the “Navigating COVID-19” content, CESE expects to strengthen the capacity of grassroots movements in such a critical context. “At this time, social movements and organizations, which already experience the consequences of inequality, are facing the impacts caused by COVID-19, with the suspension of activities and a reduction in funds. We hope that these new content constitute tools will help them overcome these challenges,” says Sônia.
Immediate aid strengthens resistance
During the pandemic, with support from the Change the Game Academy and Action for Children programmes, CESE has funded social movements and partner organizations in emergency activities to counter the impact of COVID-19. CESE invites groups to raise half of the funds required to run their project and then doubles the amount – a strategy designed to stimulate sustainability in grassroots organizations.
Eleven projects have been supported so far, benefitting 3,970 people both directly and indirectly, through donations totalling BRL 97,100.00 (18,052 USD).
One of the organizations that has benefited is the Caririense Association for the Fight Against AIDS, located in Juazeiro do Norte, in the state of Ceará. The association ran two fundraising activities, the sale of a feijoada bean stew via delivery and a campaign for online donations through online giving platforms. The organization raised BRL 8,382.00 (1558 USD) and CESE matched the amount, leading to a total of BRL 16,522.00. (3072 USD).
“We have been able to minimize the impact of the pandemic, by being a link and saying yes to basic needs”
The support benefits the project “Positive Solidarity – Assistance and prevention in combatting COVID-19” which aims to minimize the impact of the pandemic on people living with HIV, and to provide guidance about social distancing, individual protection, and individual and collective hygiene. They home delivered medication to people living with HIV/AIDS, distributed staple food baskets, as well as cleaning and personal hygiene materials, facemasks, hand sanitizer and cooking gas. They gave legal and social support by telephone, messaging apps and e-mail to questions about government emergency programmes, the timings of medication deliveries, emergency government aid and the location of services for suspected COVID-19 cases.
According to Ana Pereira, the organization’s legal advisor and fundraiser, the support was fundamental for strengthening people who live with HIV/AIDS. “We have been able to minimize the negative impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the lives of so many people. In delivering medication and providing information about health services, in being a link between the reference centre and patients living with HIV, and by saying YES to requests for food aid and other basic needs”. This demonstrates the importance of immediate aid to strengthen online fundraising strategies and contributes to the existence and resistance of organized civil society during the Covid-19 crisis.
Luana Almeida works at CESE as a Communications expert and is a Change the Game Academy Trainer of Trainers.