World of Difference - Brazil

Welcome [English]

Bem-vindo [Portuguese]

You've arrived in Brazil, which is so large it borders every country in South America except Chile and Ecuador.

Come with us and see a World of Difference in the State of Paraíba, where Tearfund's partners are transforming lives through the provision of clean, fresh water...

Working in Brazil Transforming lives in Paraíba state

Tearfund mainly works in the semi-arid region in northern Brazil, where half of families live in poverty and lack of water is a huge concern. This area has just had its first rains after seven years of drought and there is little government support.

Our partner Ação Evangélica/Evangelical Action Brazil (ACEV) is providing rural communities with fresh water sources. These are even more essential for handwashing because of the current coronavirus pandemic.

Woman with sprinkler

Rita watering the community garden in Sítio Glória, Paraíba State, Brazil

Pipes and parties How a community came together, and the water flowed Edna Maria da Silva, 33, can trace her ancestry back to the Quilombola people. That means she is descended from Afro-Brazilian slaves who escaped from plantations in the 18th and 19th centuries.

But her family was still trapped in bondage because of a lack of water in her home village, Comunidade Quilombola Fonseca. Fetching water for her three children used to take Edna the whole day.

‘We would wake up early,’ she says, ‘and take our donkey to Catole [the nearest water source 7km away]’. In Catole they would eat and wash a bundle of clothes before heading home to sleep. ‘We only came back at night. Those were suffering times.’

As a result, Edna's children would miss out on school. It was a tough life. ‘But the church came up with a solution,’ she says. ‘It was a blessing...’

‘It was freedom!’

Woman holding hands under running tap

Edna's life has been transformed thanks to the provision of a water tank, and consistent running water at home

‘The transformation started when we faced a very difficult time,’ says Edna. It began when a pastor from nearby, Francinaldo, visited the community. ‘He saw our struggles and had many conversations with our local church.’

With ACEV's help, Pastor Francinaldo launched a programme to bring water to the village. But first there was a lot of ground to prepare...

‘It's not about drilling a well, but developing a community,’ says Lindon Carlos from ACEV. ‘It takes time to bring everyone together. There is much work to be done before drilling can start.’ Lindon explained that while building a well is the result, building the community is the hardest part. ‘That takes time, but lasts for an eternity.’

After the community had been brought together, they identified the best place to drill a well. It was a kilometre outside Edna's neighbourhood. But ACEV's work uniting the community paid off...

‘Everyone came together,’ Edna remembers. ‘It was very far, and hard work to dig and lay the pipes. But it was our handiwork that made it happen. It took around a month to complete.’

Now, every home in the community (around 30) has a nearby water source. Children are able to go to school, and villagers can use the water to irrigate the land, grow crops and rear animals to sell.

The whole community united for a day of celebration. ‘It was a party,’ says Edna. ‘It was the best celebration ever. There was singing and dancing. It was freedom!’

Water coming out of a pipe

Proverb Water works

Soft water on hard rock will work until it makes a hole / Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura.

This Brazilian proverb is an encouragement to persevere even when all seems hopeless, because small acts can bring big change.

A pipe from the water tank provided built by the community with support from Tearfund’s partner in Fonseca, Brazil


A place to stay A farmer and a poet, and a simple joy of living

Antônio loved his home – a remote rural community in Arara. He started farming alongside his father when he was seven. Lack of income forced Antônio to move to the nearby city of São Paulo. When he had enough money, he came home and bought land. But a lack of water made growing crops difficult.

Antônio's local church and ACEV helped to improve the pipes to better irrigate his land, and has a biodigester to produce natural fertiliser. As a result it is much more fertile, producing a bountiful crop of fruit and vegetables to sell. Antônio has written a poem in celebration of his life and home...

The place where I live (extract)

Here in this place
Where I live and will be raised
It’s my farm, Arara
Of which I will tell you about
and of the simple things that exist
In my treasured home

Here in this place
Where friendship is plentiful
And so many things are beautiful
There are roads to the city
Where outsiders come to visit
For generous is our welcome and hospitality

Statue with long arms

Gloriel Otília da Silva carries on the tradition of clay figurine making in the artisan town of Caruaru

Big huggers Traditional figures with long arms, offering a warm embrace

The town of Caruaru continues a tradition of making small statues with very long arms, made out of clay from the local river. They are offered as gifts to people who are far away to show that they care, and would love to give them a big cuddle. We're all missing hugs from friends and family, so why not send a gift or card to a loved one to show you miss them?

Statue with long arms

Gloriel Otília da Silva carries on the tradition of clay figurine making in the artisan town of Caruaru