The Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Brazil is among many other Grassroots International partners taking on the coronavirus pandemic in their communities. Brasil de Fato, a social movement newspaper, reports on the steps the MST is taking in Pernambuco, including opening their Paulo Freire training center as a field hospital for COVID-19 patients.
Grassroots International donors and activists have supported the Paulo Freire Training Center in the past, both financially and politically. Our grants have funded infrastructure projects and curriculum development, while just this past fall, an international solidarity campaign stopped an eviction threat against the center.
To support the work of the MST and other Grassroots International partners and grantees fighting the pandemic, please donate to our emergency fund.
Providing Capacity for 800 people
The state leadership of the MST in Pernambuco has made the Paulo Freire Training Center, in Caruaru, available to the State Government to serve as a field hospital for patients diagnosed with COVID-19. The MST formalized the decision in a letter on Monday, March 30th, and it will help reinforce SUS [Sistema Único de Saúde, Brazil’s public healthcare system] to cope with the number of patients infected with the pandemic in the state.
The center has more than 50 bedrooms, 6 classrooms and an auditorium with capacity for 800 people. It is located in the Normandia settlement and the movement uses the center for popular education and for training teachers and coordinators.
This action is part of the Hands of Solidarity campaign of the Frente Brasil Popular/Popular Brazil Front, also launched this Monday. The campaign consists of several areas of work, such as distribution of meals to the homeless, production of handmade masks, and distribution of food boxes to people living in encampments and in at-risk communities on the outskirts of cities.
In addition to this, the state directorate of the MST has advised its base to continue growing healthy food and making homemade medicines, such as tinctures, teas and syrups that improve immunity. And it is calling on all settlements to organize and grow medicinal plants and organic products, especially for families themselves to consume.
Family agricultural producers and collectives are developing techniques to conserve and store agricultural products in order to guarantee the supply of healthy food to cities.
Doctors and members of the MST health sector are also accompanying families in the settlements and encampments as a measure to prevent coronavirus, in particular in the homes of people more at risk, such as the elderly, newborns and the sick.
In Recife, the Armazém do Campo (a space coordinated by the MST where Agrarian Reform products are sold) has been carrying out the Solidary Lunchbox campaign. This campaign distributes meals to the homeless. In five days, the campaign has distributed more than six thousand lunch boxes.
This campaign is an expression of the Frente Brasil Popular/ Popular Brazil Front, with support from the Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife. Volunteers follow strict coronavirus safety and prevention measures.
* Editing: Marcos Barbosa