Inspired by a lecture on Empathy and Volunteer Work, students from Viva Rio’s education program Jovem Aprendiz decided to put into practice what they were debating and got together to take the streets and distribute donations to homeless people. In less than 24 hours they collected kits that included water, fruit, biscuits, toiletries and warm clothing. All donated by themselves.
In the program, called Jovem Aprendizes, we prepare undergraduate students to pursue their careers of choice. They take classes at Viva Rio on matters that will help them develop their professional and interpersonal skills, including citizenship, ethics, politics and technology. It is a great satisfaction for us to see the effects of the lessons go beyond the classroom.
The task of that Empathy and Volunteer Work class was for the students to divide into groups and create feasible voluntary work projects. The goal was to think together about how it makes a difference in the lives of those who practice it and those who receives the help. To open the possibility of walking in other people’s shoes and try to feel what they feel. During the debate the students’ desire to do something with what was being discussed was perceptible.
“How many people pass by the homeless and not even say good morning?”
– Maria Alice, 17 years old, member of the education program.
Then, one group had the idea of distributing food to homeless people and this plan soon evolved into action when the class talked and realized that very close to the headquarters of Viva Rio in Glória there is a large concentration of homeless people.
The idea was immediately embraced by the whole class, which in one day collected 10 liters of water, 30 packets of biscuits, 50 fruits, tampons, toothpaste, cotton swabs, toilet paper, shavers and soaps, as well as warm clothes. More than the donations, the young people made a point of distributing affection and attention. “We did not want to take only food,” said student Ana Paula, one of the organizers of the action. “We added in the kits notes with motivational messages like ‘You’re important’, an idea that came from another group”.
Ana Paula says she was surprised by the different profiles of the people she talked to. “We met a very talented young man, Thiago, who speaks English and French. He said something that moved us a lot: ‘I am a threat, I have nothing and I am a threat”’, she says. “They are conscious people, who feel and understand things, on the contrary of what many people think. “
“When we started the activity we saw that these people needed a lot more than material things, they need someone to look at them, they need to feel like they are people. It was very transformative for everyone”.
– Ana Clara, 17 years old, student.
We joyfully and proudly congratulate each of these young students on the initiative, sensitivity and maturity to deal with such a difficult issue. A position that reflects the raison d’être of Viva Rio, which is to work for a more just and inclusive society, where each person has a voice, an opportunity and the right to live in peace.