SAD 23 Santa In s Adventist School in Maranh o honors street cleaners on Brazil s Gari Day
Maranhão, Brazil | Érica Tavares

K eeping the streets clean, conserving the city and regularly collecting waste are fundamental activities for the health and well-being of the population. These tasks are performed every day by urban cleaning professionals, street sweepers. Since 2011, May 16 is nationally dedicated to honoring these professionals, an event known as “Gari Day” after the Portuguese word for street sweepers.

The Santa Inês Adventist School (EASI), located in the seventh-largest city of the northeast Brazilian state of Maranhão, chose Gari Day to thank them for the work that public cleaners have been doing in the municipality, especially for continuing their activities in the midst of the new coronavirus pandemic.

School director Alexandre Lopes, said the motivation came from a desire to bring some appreciation to these often-overlooked professionals. “We want them to know how important they are and to thank them because, even with the pandemic, they remain on the front lines, doing an excellent job,” he says.

Early on Saturday morning the 16th, the School team went to meet the street sweepers and I had the opportunity to talk to the employees, personally speaking about the importance of their category.

At the meeting, there was a prayer and in addition to the expression of thanks, a kit with snacks, fruits, and protective items, such as masks and hand sanitizer, was given to each worker. Cleaning agents who are mothers also received a special gift in reference to Mother's Day. The kits were delivered to the 100 street sweepers who are part of the municipality's staff.

For cleaning agent Antonio Vieira, being remembered that day could not generate any feeling other than gratitude. “We do our work thinking about people's daily lives, so we are very satisfied when people help us”, he says.

 Vianey Bringel, mayor of Santa Inês, was present at the Adventist School tribute to the workers. Regional media, including  TV Mirante, a Globo network broadcaster, also featured the event.

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s Portuguese news site