A few days ago two Brazilian students, Maurício Tavares and João Paulo Berenguer, launched a project to support homeless people in their home city, Salvador. The project, “Acorda, Cidadão” (Wake Up, Citizen) along with “Levanta-te e Anda” (Get up and Walk) promotes and helps homeless people to find an occupation and, at the same time, helps the city’s own goals using rehabilitation through gardening.
Which is, in fact, the main objective of your project?
Our main objective is the social rescue of the homeless, aiming to improve the quality of life for themselves and their subsequent reintegration into society. Most of the homeless are imperceptible to the community’s eye, which acts in an exclusive way of not recognizing them as true citizens. From this situation, we seek to change this ideology that has been rooted in these people.
How do you intend to change this situation? Have any of your goals involved an improvement of Salvador as a healthy urban environment?
The major flaw of urban centers reveals the problems of social exclusion, violence, hunger, unemployment, health, and housing, among others. In Salvador, the reality is no different, but other issues are added to the existing ones. Most people do not know the reality of a homeless person. Through a video documentary, we want to show this reality to the population that does not have access or do not search for such information. So we’re asking for donations, since materials are fundamentally important to the process of rescuing the dignity of the homeless population.
Where urban agriculture would be inserted in the process of reintegration of the homeless into the society?
Gardening is one proposed social rehabilitation method for the homeless in this project. It has fundamental importance to the educational activities, in order to pass forward to those whom live within certain limitations. They learn to deal with their emotions, develop interpersonal relationships, enhance their skills and restart a life. During the gardening activities, they carefully set up each plot, using many different species and then take care of it. Besides gardening, the homeless also transform wasted objects and materials and turn garbage into beauty, giving wasted plastic bottles and tires a new use.
As we see, while the students work to disclose the homeless’ daily life, the “Levanta-te e Anda” project has a motto “Recycling lives”. They provide gardening and recycling lessons as well music and other activities. Fortunately the next generations are moving forward to compose harmonious communities between society and nature, even if in small steps.
Check the campaign video below: