Second Tikkun Olam Seminar in Brazil Continues its Impact

“The month of July 2017 marked 20 months of the day when the mud from Samarco reached the ocean. Twenty months of mud and struggle. Today we get together to remember, we get together to feel, we get together to pray, we get together to act for the regeneration of the Rio Doce river. We chose life. We want more Maim Le Chaim: water for life”
(Rabbi Uri Lam) 

The Areal Community, in the district of Linhares in the state of Espirito Santo, Brazil, was one of the communities affected by the mineral residues from the rupture of the dam of the Samarco mining company in 2015. Located in the mouth of the Rio Doce river, the community, made up of 250 indigenous inhabitants, was deprived of the only leisure activity that the population had: swimming in the river and lakes. The WUPJ – Reform Movement together with the Unidos Pela Vida (UPV) (United for Life) Institute visited the region in December 2916 during the 1st Tikkun Olam Seminar. At that time, young Jews from Brazil helped renovate and revitalize the headquarters of the institute. With the objective of strengthening our relationship with the community and providing continuity for the project, a new visit was planned. In preparation for this visit, our partners visited the community various times to find out what their main demands were. Among the many necessities, they identified that there was an urgent need for an alternative leisure activity to occupy the people’s free time, mainly the children’s, in a healthy and productive manner. Based on the children’s request, we decided to build a soccer field.

The WUPJ – Reform Movement fundraised during the semester before the trip to buy the equipment necessary and sent a team of 14 volunteers from all over Brazil that worked together with the local community to build the soccer field. Other collaborators also participated in a special way: the Jewish Agency of Intercultural Exchange with financial support; architect Julia Herszenhut who drew the blueprints; local companies who sponsored the uniform and the Corinthians soccer club that supplied the soccer balls.

The TaMaR and the Marom, as well as the Rio Hillel collaborated by advertising the program, which also had the support of the KKL in Brazil. The chief of the tribe, José Barcelos, brought the community together to help build the field. On Sunday, 07/30, the field was handed over to the community. The event was attended by Fabiano Eller, retired fullback and left fullback, who played for Fluminense, Flamengo, Vasco, the Brazilian National Soccer team, Atlético de Madrid and other soccer teams. He kicked off the game that inaugurated the field. That day, our volunteer Andressa Ledermann Pomeroy, dental student, gave all of the children in the village a dental hygiene kit with toothpaste and toothbrush and taught them hot to correctly conduct dental hygiene.

Our team of volunteers delivered 5 suitcases filled with books donated to the village’s library and the headquarters of the UPV Institute.

The structure will be used as a sports court for the school (that has 60 students from kindergarten and elementary school) that does not have a location for their physical education classes. The field will also be used as a meeting and social interaction place by the community since it did not have a public square before.

For us Reform Jews, the Jewish experience goes beyond the limits of the synagogue and prayer. We are partners in creation and being a part of this Tikkun Olam project is an obligation of every human being.

“One thing is for you to be in favor of a cause, another one is to be a part of a cause”
Rabbi A.J. Heschel 

Be a part: contribute, come to the next seminar, tell your friends: