Solidarity—what does this word mean to you? One of the definitions of this term, from the Michaelis Brazilian Dictionary of the Portuguese Language, is, “Feeling of love or compassion for the needy or the wronged, which impels the individual to provide them with moral or material help.”A recent study shows that almost 117 million Brazilians do not eat as they should, with sufficient quality and quantity.
Of these, 19 million have nothing to eat. It is in this context, which is not new but was aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, with fragile economies and the increase in social inequalities, that solidarity gestures can be decisive to change the reality of those close to you and even those who are on the other side of the world.
This is the case of Kaito Queiroz, 29, a software developer who lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He left Brazil in 2019 when he received a job offer from a Dutch company. Reading the news about unemployment and the economic crisis in the Brazilian territory, Queiroz decided to help. “I was also motivated by a speech by Rochdi Darrazi, founder of the company Boldking, where I currently work. He brought the idea that 'if you are doing well in life, why not give something back to society?' So I decided that I should act in some way”, he recalls.
Soon after, he started a fundraising campaign via email, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook. The funds would be used to purchase basic food baskets to be delivered to people in their region of origin. “However, as I don't live in Brazil, I needed to count on the help of some serious institution that would have the structure and volunteers to guarantee that the funds raised would go to the people who need it most and would not end up in the hands of corrupt institutions. It was then that the name of the Adventist Solidarity Action (ASA) came to me”, he clarifies.
Queiroz refers to a ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that is responsible for various support actions and social assistance services that the churches carry out in favor of others.
He is not a member of the denomination, but he knew ASA's work from his brother, André Marques, who attends the meetings. For Terezinha Pimentel, director of the department, the help was a great surprise. “We have managed to help 26 people so far with what was sent, and I know that more resources have arrived to help more people”, she says excitedly.
Pizza of Good
When the aid does not arrive, the way is to improvise. In the church of Iguape, Alto Boqueirão District, Curitiba, a partnership between Youth Ministries and the Personal Ministries was the way found to obtain funds for the ASA.
According to Fábio Costa, director of the local ASA, the volunteers rely on the sale of pizzas. To enhance profit, the ingredients were collected through donations from members. "The goal was to sell at least 100 pizzas, but we ended up selling 190", he details. The success was so great that people from distant places bought ingredients to help and chose to donate parcels they would not be able to withdraw. The deliveries were made in a drive-thru system, and the result was the collection of approximately R$3,500, transferred to the department.
In early November last year, the situation of the Adventist Solidarity Action of the Central Adventist Church in Guaratuba was complicated. “We always did a bazaar to raise money for basic food baskets, but with the pandemic, we couldn't do it anymore”, explains Dilce Castro, ASA's director. While worried about how she would get the donations needed to help the neediest people at Christmas, she received a call that cheered up the entire team.
The call was from Edmilson Silva, a member of the church who was touched by the situation reported by Castro and felt the desire to help. “Our life has never been short of food, but it hasn't been easy either. However, in the past two years, we have had many blessings, even with the pandemic. And seeing the situation of the church, we decided to help”, he recalls.
According to Silva, there are many other people who can make a difference; it would be enough to give up an exit at the weekend. The small attitude would already have a major impact on the lives of other families. “The person who donates is the one who is most blessed by the happiness of helping others”, assures Silva, who continues to share the blessings he has received.
His gesture of solidarity has guaranteed food on the table for about 60 families for five months. Most of the beneficiaries work as cartpeople in the collection of recyclables and have been seriously affected by the health and economic crises.