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Saúde Criança works with families from some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro and all over Brazil. The typical family assisted by the program comes from the favelas (slums) and is comprised of a single, African-Brazilian mother with about 3-4 children. Here, they live in abject poverty with little access to government resources and often they have grown accustomed to being marginalized and forgotten by those in power. As a result, they consider themselves to be hopeless and unable to escape from their surroundings. Their dreams of success become forgotten when it becomes a daily struggle just to survive.
In this context, acute and chronic medical conditions have severe and long-lasting consequences on not only the family´s health but its overall welfare as well. Frequently, the decision to buy medicine or continue treatment for a sick child means relinquishing dinner for the day or being unable to provide for other members of the family. Even if the expensive treatments are purchased, they are rendered ineffective when the child returns back to the dirty alleyways and cramped housing characteristic of most houses in a favela. Thus, families become poorer, both financially and in spirit, while their health conditions stagnate or even worsen.
Racontez l'histoire du fondateur et ce qui l'a inspiré à démarrer ce projet
While working as a doctor in one of Rio de Janeiro's largest public hospitals, Dr. Vera Cordeiro began to notice that many of the children who were treated and released would often come back a month or two later in even worse condition, or, as occurred too often, would never return at all--even with the proper medicine, they would die. She realized that the problem was not the quality of medical treatment at the hospital but the social ills plaguing the child’s family that rendered the treatments ineffective. Compelled to make a difference in her community, she founded the “Child Health Association” (Associação Saúde Criança) in 1991 to break this cycle of poverty, disease and death.
What began as a small, personal operation in which Dr. Cordeiro auctioned off her own set of bed sheets to buy the first supplies has since become an efficient institution that goes far beyond hospital walls to truly heal those in need. Her comprehensive approach engages health professionals to identify at-risk families and mobilizes a cadre of volunteers to work one-on-one with each family to take charge of transforming their lives. Through her work, Dr. Vera Cordeiro has gone above and beyond the role of a physician and has been recognized as one of the most influential social entrepreneurs of this generation.