“Amma’s humanitarian work in São Paulo has changed my life,” explains Nayara. At 18, Nayara had a daughter who was a year-and-a-half old when she found out she was pregnant with quadruplets.
Then two months after birth, one of the new babies died. Meanwhile, Nayara’s husband earns for the family, but it is barely enough to pay the rent.
“The Programa Acolher has given us things like clothes for the babies, hygiene items, and special milk for premature babies.”
Programa Acolher is the chapter of Embracing the World’s humanitarian work in Brazil. It started in 2016 in São Paulo. The goal is to address the precarious conditions of life there. Local AYUDH members, our youth wing, are actively stepping up to provide the much needed volunteer support.
“I have always been interested in humanitarian work since I was very young because I was following the example of my grandmother who fed the homeless and allowed them to bathe in her home,” shares Bhasura, who started Programa Acolher.
She explains when she visited Amritapuri in 2015, she realized that it was her duty to start this work in her home city. “After darshan I felt deep in my being that Amma was showing me the pain that hunger causes in our brothers and sisters.”
Close to a third of São Paulo’s 11 million people live in slum-like conditions. The poverty is deep. Yet, on the other side of the coin, São Paulo is the seventh largest metropolis in the world and has a booming economy.
Now the list of Programa Acolher’s projects that are underway is long.
For Amma’s Kitchen, 40 volunteers gather once a month to prepare a soup to distribute to 400 people who live in poverty. They make sure to include bread with butter and mineral water.
Throughout the month, volunteers visit the streets to deliver necessary items like clothes, shoes and blankets. There is a focus on single mothers and families in low income conditions.
They are given maternity kits, strollers, cribs, and milk. Programa Acolher has also partnered with educational institutions to provide kits of school supplies and clothing for children and adolescents.
Another vital task is providing for families when catastrophes hit. For example, in 2015 there was a dam in the city that overflowed and many slum dwellings were ruined. Fires are also a common occurrence. The program comes into action through means such as distributing drinking water, blankets and sleeping bags.
Now the work of Programa Acholher has expanded to the cities of Porto Alegre and Brasilia.
“I think Amma can inspire more people to follow her teaching of selfless work,” concludes Bhasura.