HELPING THE HOMELESS IN BRAZIL
Founded in 2012, the Albergue da Misericórdia is a shelter for homeless men run by MSC missionaries in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro. Translated from Portuguese, the word “misericórdia” encompasses the idea of mercy, compassion, and charity – and that is exactly what the community at this centre does.
The shelter currently houses 43 men between the ages of 18 and 59. These men are provided with food, health care, and bathing facilities, along with a safe, secure place to stay. The team here also help with sourcing important documentation, such as birth certificates, identity cards, and other essential papers required to contact family, gain work, and reintegrate with society.
This care service supplies residents with three meals and two snacks every day, while also providing facilities for personal hygiene, medical and dental care, psychological care, education, and clothing. The centre also welcomes homeless men who do not wish to seek shelter, but who visit to bathe and eat when they need to, knowing they have a safe place to turn.
“One of the main goals of the centre is to welcome, accompany, and guide homeless men who want to effectively change their lives, supporting them in the process of social and spiritual reintegration.”
OPEN HEARTS IN RIO DE JANEIRO
Residents at the centre take part in a scheduled routine of daily tasks, encouraging a sense of discipline and responsibility. They clean and care for the house and outdoor areas, maintain the bathrooms and kitchen, separate and store food that arrives via donations, help with food preparation, deal with waste disposal and recycling, tend to the vegetable garden, and care for the pigs raised in the outdoor area of the hostel grounds.
MSCs at the Albergue da Misericórdia depend largely on financial donations from benefactors and the local community to carry out their ongoing work in helping the homeless. They also receive a small income from food drives and the sale of second-hand clothes and goods at the São Pedro de Alcântara Church, along with a subsidy for 15 men from the São Gonçalo City Hall.
“Today, our project needs help,” writes Fr Jean Francisco Monteiro Aguiar MSC. “Our shelter can hold up to 50 men. The City Council subsidises us for 15 users, and it is our responsibility to find resources to help the rest. Now, we must ask for help to maintain this project, which has such a deep social impact.”