In a region of Sao Paulo city where violent deaths are common and fatalities due to Covid-19 do not shock the population, Brazil’s Catholic Church has launched a campaign to try to convince those not providing essential services to maintain social distancing and remain at home.
The campaign, ‘Quero te ver de novo’ (I Want to See You Again) in Brasilandia, one of Sao Paulo city’s poorest regions, seeks to disseminate the importance of social distancing in protecting the population from being contaminated with the coronavirus. Church officials, however, admit that the task is not an easy one.
“In this region social distancing is complicated, almost impossible. The houses are small and there are many family members living in each of them. Significant social distancing has not been practised here,” said Sao Paulo Auxiliary Bishop Devair Araujo da Fonseca, who is in charge of the Brasilandia episcopal region of the archdiocese.
The Church’s campaign also tries to dispel the popular notion that “one more or one less death won’t make a difference”.
“This is a population that has lived many years with extreme violence, high unemployment and lack of basic infrastructure. We needed a campaign that would say to them: Hold on, take care of yourself and others, because we want to see you alive and well (when the pandemic is over),” Jorge Vicente Barros Ferreira, one of the co-ordinators of the communications department at the Archdiocese of Sao Paulo, told Catholic News Service.
Located in the northern part of the city, Brasilandia is one of the most populous neighbourhoods in Sao Paulo, with more than 260,000 inhabitants. The area, largely made up of slums and low-income tenements, has 36 parishes and 237 Catholic communities.
Since the first cases of Covid-19, the region has continually registered the highest numbers of cases and deaths caused by the virus in Sao Paulo city, the epicentre of the pandemic in Brazil. According to official data, until 5th June the borough had registered 247 deaths and thousands of confirmed cases.
Picture: Activists in protective gear dig ‘graves’ on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on 11th June 2020. The graves were dug to symbolise those who died from Covid-19. (CNS photo/Pilar Olivares, Reuters).