In just a few months the eyes of the world will be on Brazil as it hosts the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
In recent years the country has grown in economic development and has become a popular tourist destination. However, as Ballyclare resident Jordan Greer witnessed, there is much work to be done in a country with still approximately 16 million people living in abject poverty.
Jordan, who is the Northern Ireland Youth Intern for Christian Aid Ireland, visited Brazil in January as part of a team from around the UK, meeting and interviewing partners funded by Christian Aid who are tackling poverty and inequality.
Speaking after the trip Jordan said: “Brazil is a developing country with much to offer, yet the poorest in this society are being further marginalised and have suffered years of discrimination throughout the military dictatorship. Only three per cent of the population in Brazil own more than two-thirds of all available arable farming land. This has trapped many rural labourers in poverty and has increased unplanned urbanisation.”
Jordan commented: “Beyond the developed cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, much of the country has not experienced the same investment and even within the developed cities much of the suburbs are vast areas of slum housing known as Favelas. In these areas the problems of unemployment, poor levels of education and health issues are rife.”
Christian Aid work through a number of partners in Brazil that protect the rights of ‘landless’ rural workers, supporting indigenous communities, helping homeless families, defending the environment from mass deforestation and developing new housing in the notorious Favelas that are a common feature, particularly in Rio and Sao Paulo where Jordan visited.
One successful short programme in Sao Paulo helped homeless men and women find housing and supported them financially through work at a recycling plant. This provided them with skills and experience to go on and support themselves once they had passed through the scheme. The Christian Aid team also visited a number of programmes, which supported small farms to work in co-operatives. These are beneficial to their rural communities as they use profits to build clinics and small schools in remote areas, often surrounded by tropical forests with poor transport links to developed areas.
Jordan added: “Christian Aid strives for an equitable Brazilian society, where all citizens’ rights are fully achieved; ensuring that people thrive and live with dignity and no one is left behind regardless of race, nationality or religion.”
Jordan joined Christian Aid in August 2015 and since then has worked on various fundraising events and campaigns as well as visiting schools, churches and youth organisations to speak about the work of Christian Aid around the world. He said: “I was inspired to be a Christian Aid intern because of the vision this organisation has to fight poverty and all forms of injustice, a principle held by Christian Aid since it was founded 70 years ago. Through this experience I hope to play my part to raise awareness, campaign for change and help those in need.”
If you would like Jordan to come and speak in your Church or youth organisation about Brazil or global poverty issues, contact him on email@example.com