The covid-19 pandemic has revealed a silent crowd that acts and works tirelessly to lessen the suffering of those who live abandoned on the streets. The group ‘Panela do Bem’, which brings together members from various neighborhoods in the capital of Rio de Janeiro, is part of this expressive portion that now, more than ever, runs against time and circumstances to satisfy the hunger of many people.
Since the spread of the disease led to the closure of much of the trade and imposed a quarantine in Rio, a few thousand men and women living on the streets of the city center have come to live with the drama of having no one to ask for.
Solidarity action promoted by the Panela do Bem group supports homeless people in Rio
They depend exclusively, at this moment, on initiatives such as the one carried out by ‘Panela do Bem’. In fact, this group has existed for six years, with the commitment, until recently, to donate meals fortnightly to homeless people in the central region of Rio and, sometimes, in the neighborhood of Tijuca, in the northern zone.
They tried to do this on days when those served would receive nothing from other solidarity actions – they already knew this beforehand.
But, with the arrival of the covid-19, the ‘Panela do Bem’ intensified delivery and started offering meals weekly. There are between 250 and 300 warm donated every Friday, near the Public Defender’s building, in the heart of downtown Rio.
“They organize themselves well, line up, and are very happy when we arrive. They like to talk about football, carnival, we already know several by their names. Unfortunately, they are still invisible to many, but they feel strengthened by these gestures ”, says pharmacist Cristiano Silva, coordinator of‘ Panela do Bem ’. His wife Mônica Reis and other friends are at the front of the group.
“It is a collective work. We organize in joint efforts and vary the menu. Another day we took feijoada. Then stroganoff. When it does, we also deliver blankets, warm clothing, water, masks. Before, we donated soup. But to avoid crowding around the pan – it was served on the spot – we made the option to change the menu. In the last week, we were able to add sandwich and chocolate for breakfast the next day. ”
With the repercussion of the work of ‘Panela do Bem’, other people willing to help sought out the group. A lady, from Tijuca, asked for their financial support, and managed to donate 60 hot meals a week.
“As long as we have health and the minimum to give, the work will continue”, says Cristiano.
Anyone who wants to collaborate with the ‘Panela do Bem’ project can get information on Instagram (@paneladobemrj) or on the group’s Facebook page, where there are data from three bank accounts for deposits and a list of the items they need most: beans parboiled rice, Styrofoam jars with lids, bottles of mineral water (500ml), forks and disposable spoons, natural guarana, soap and toilet paper.
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Source: Silvio Alves Barsetti