” Pedagogical Missions ” In Brazil To Raise Awareness About The Coronavirus Due To Bolsonaro’s Inaction

In the suburbs, favelas, hills and poor areas of Brazil, where almost 14 million people live, the prevention instructions of the Ministry of Health are not easy to follow. In these territories classified by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics as “irregular agglomerations”, the so-called popular communicators are essential.

In Recife, the posters translate the official message, like this poster in the Toto neighborhood

Public Agency


In the absence of federal government measures aimed at the favelas, and while President Bolsonaro has responded with a “so what? What do you want me to do?” At the alarming spike in deaths, we spoke with “popular communicators” in five capitals of the country: Belém, Salvador, Pernambuco, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, who are organizing to fight the pandemic.

"Your fake news can kill people, if you do not help, do not hinder", says the pamphlet distributed by NORDESTEUSOU

“Your fake news can kill people, if you do not help, do not hinder”, says the pamphlet distributed by NORDESTEUSOU

NORDESTEUSOU / Public Agency

“Communication in the Brazilian suburbs is a very complex issue,” says Ronaldo Mattos, a communicator and member of the project. I unrooted and I enrolled, which brings together communicators from the suburbs of São Paulo, the city that is the epicenter of Covid-19 in the country. “If we think of the inhabitants of São Paulo, we think of groups, populations, districts, agglomerations. When we speak of the favelas of Rio, it is another demographic group. If we speak of the northeast, it is an even more different place. We face the complexities of the territories by organizing ourselves nationally. “

Poster made by the CDD Front, from the City of God, in Rio de Janeiro.

Poster made by the CDD Front, from the City of God, in Rio de Janeiro.

Public Agency

To combat fake news, give prevention tips, and update government measures, Mattos teamed up with journalist Gisele Brito and communicator Tony Marlon on the projects. Periphery in Movimento and Alma Preta. Together, they started producing the podcast Sem Neurose Pandemic (pandemic without neurosis).

“We thought of a short podcast, 2 to 3 minutes long, that people didn’t have to spend a lot of time on, that would load quickly on the phone, take up no memory space on the device and could be played on a larger scale,” he explains. Ronaldo. “It has been very successful. We have received comments from older people, from people who live in completely different regions. From the south to the extreme north,” he says.

Talking to the suburbs and not about the suburbs represents for Ronaldo a “structuring problem”. “Otherwise, reporting in irregular crowds becomes a purely journalistic product,” he says. “Regardless of whether you live in a popular area or not, you are going to produce content about those territories and it is something that has great value. But, if that information does not end up in the hands of those who need it, what is the public value of that reportage? Of that journalistic content? “, he asks himself.

“The information should be usable for the elderly, the young people who go to parties to debate because they still don’t understand the severity of the virus and the possibilities of contagion. So people will pay attention to all this,” he explains.

In São Paulo, other actions are being carried out in the two largest favelas in the state. In Heliópolis, União de Núcleos y Asociaciones de Residentes (UNAS) have been promoting campaigns to collect food and hygiene products. A survey was also recently done on-line unprecedented impact of coronavirus on favelas. Of the 653 forms answered, the data regarding the economic situation stand out: “68% of the families in Heliópolis have already experienced losses in their monthly income since the isolation measures were adopted, and within these 19% say no have more income. “

In Paraisópolis, União dos Moradores created committees with neighborhood leaders. According to the association’s president, Gilson Rodrigues, “we identified 420 leaders who volunteered and will oversee an average of 50 households. The idea is to cover 21,000 homes and reach the population of 100,000 inhabitants living in the favelas,” he explains.

“The decision was made to close the streets to claim the right to water. Why isn’t water coming? When the water comes, it is very yellow,” says a resident of the Terra Firme neighborhood, on the outskirts of Belém, Pará, which has 60,000 inhabitants.

A student, Izabela Chaves, 25, a local resident and popular communicator, records the scene. The coronavirus outbreak was the trigger for a protest on March 18, in which an avenue was closed with barracks made of sticks, furniture and tires. “They were worried about going to work, bathing and doing the basics,” says Izabela. The young film and audiovisual student is part of the Tela Firme collective, which focuses on audiovisual production and training for young people on the outskirts of Belém.

The group joined the Young Communicators Laboratory on the outskirts of Belém, which was formed against the clock on March 22, with the aim of monitoring official content and showing guidelines and complaints from the suburbs during a pandemic. Mainly, they deny the false news and inform on the local reality.

Professor Lilia Melo, project coordinator Clube TF Cinema (part of the coalition), highlights the importance of reporting in the suburbs during the pandemic. “With the coronavirus issue, we leveraged our network to be able to provide guidance on how to prevent and combat the virus using language for young audiences. We realized that here in the neighborhood, there are some young people who are still unaware of the severity of the matter. Within their reality and the difficulties they face, they end up ridiculing some recommendations of the federal and state government, since they do not adjust to the reality of the suburbs, “Lilia points out.

Adapting the language is also key for the suburban filmmaker Yane Mendes, who decided to adapt the information provided by the Ministry of Health and direct it to the approximately 2,500 residents of the marginal neighborhood of Toto, in Recife, Pernambuco. She herself went to look for the posters that informed of the measures to prevent the coronavirus, annoyed with the carelessness of the municipal organisms.

However, since its content was technical, institutional and protocol-based, Yane wrote his own statement and began to stick it together with the posters created by the Department of Health, making a kind of translation of the institutional message. “The idea is to transmit the message directly, with few words, even in a simple way,” he explains.

Yane affirms that the action of sticking the posters was worth it, since some residents who did not know her began to look for her to know the next interventions. She also contacted people from other communities to request the material, emphasizing the importance of using direct language for the population. Yane has even created a group of WhatsApp people interested in building ways of communicating adapted to the context where they live.

The spread of false news about the coronavirus also worries Jefferson Borges, publicist, activist and founder of the portal NORDESTeuSOU. Borges lives on the outskirts of Salvador de Bahía, in the northeast neighborhood of Amaralina. Fake news creates fear among residents, who don’t know what to believe. “There are many chains with messages and, sometimes, they report deaths. So we have to verify so as not to scare the community,” he says.

In an attempt to mitigate the impacts of this news, the group has adopted informational strategies so that residents know the real situation. Project members began distributing brochures at some heavily traveled points. The content, focused on preventive measures, is also distributed by instant messaging and SMS. In addition, a vehicle with a loudspeaker circulates providing information for 5 hours a day.

One community in which communicators did not have time to fight the false news was Ciudad de Dios, one of the largest favelas in western Rio de Janeiro. On March 22, the Municipal Health Department confirmed the first case of local contagion. For Ricardo Fernandes, actor and resident, “after the first confirmed case, people realized that it was really something serious, and what was in Europe was also here. And there was a change in the behavior of the residents. “

Ricardo is part of Frente CCD, an initiative that unites residents, activists, health professionals, groups and individuals and that arose from the need to reduce the effects of the coronavirus in the community. “There were already two CDD groups doing a food donation campaign. And then we created the Front to expand the campaign, to go beyond donation and raise awareness among residents,” he explains.

“But the final objective of the Front is to reduce the general impact of the coronavirus. We no longer only have the common daily problems of being a marginal neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro: violence, lack of basic sanitation, lack of classes, lack of water. All of these problems have always been in our daily life. With the coronavirus, all of them have been potentiated, “denounces the communicator and activist.

In Recife, the posters translate the official message, like this poster in the Toto neighborhood

In Recife, the posters translate the official message, like this poster in the Toto neighborhood

Public Agency



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