Because of the coronavirus in Brazil, Milena Maia found herself unemployed and, with her three children, has started to skip meals, as well as other families who have seen the misery accompany the pandemic in the favelas.
“I lost my job because of the pandemic. The situation is difficult and there are days where we have to skip a meal”, explains the young woman to the AFP in his modest home in Heliopolis, a huge favela of almost 200 000 inhabitants, one of the largest of Sao Paulo.
This Brazilian 36 years, raises alone her children, was a woman of the household. Today she depends on food donations from a local NGO, the Unas.
“Each month, I receive a basic food basket, which helps me feed my children,” says Milena Maia, arrived five months ago at Heliopolis. Some of its knowledge have been contaminated by the Covid-19 and several are dead.
The favelas of Brazil — the country most affected in the world after the United States with 1.9 million cases of coronavirus, and more than 74 000 people dead — are very vulnerable because of the precariousness of health systems and poor sanitary conditions.
In addition, most of their residents depend on small informal jobs that disappeared quickly with the crisis and the containment.
Milena Maia and her children are not isolated cases. According to a survey carried out in Heliopolis by the Unas and the federal University of Sao Paulo, nearly one-quarter of the 711 family heads interviewed indicated being left without food at one time or another since the arrival of the pandemic, four months ago.
Only 58% said that their family had three meals per day, 38% that they were not taking breakfast and 67% that they had food portions reduced.
Half of the respondents — the vast majority of them women — believe that the power of their home is neither healthy nor varied.
The government of president Jair Bolsonaro has granted a monthly benefit of 600 réais (€100) to the poor since the beginning of the crisis. But according to this survey, if 83% of respondents in Heliopolis have requested this assistance, only 32% actually received it.
“There’s a general feeling that the virus is ‘democratic’, but the chances (of each) are not, and the impact (of the pandemic] is far worse in the suburbs, in the favelas,” says AFP Reginaldo Gonçalves, coordinator of the Observatoire de Olho na Quebrada, a division of the Unas.
The Observatory has conducted this survey from April 24 to may 29, to put pressure on the authorities.
“Often the data exist, but they are not easily accessible, our project is even more essential with the coronavirus,” said Joao Vitor da Cruz, another member of the Observatory.