Jenny Seymour is a volunteer at CAFOD Hallam and is standing together with the Maua community in Sao Paulo, Brazil
CAFOD does some incredible work around the world in communities that need help and solutions to develop their communities and lift th
em out of poverty. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, there is one community that came up with an amazing idea to help themselves and use what little they had to build up a community and enrich their lives – how enterprising!
The Mauá building stands in the centre of São Paulo, Brazil. Once a chic hotel, it was abandoned and left empty for 17 years until, in 2007, over 200 homeless families moved in and renovated it. They used their own skills and resources and came together as a group. For the last 10 years they have been trying to win their legal rights to their home – as Brazilian law allows.
Through our Connect2 project, parishes in England and Wales have been following and supporting the Mauá community. Although the community have fought off eviction orders in the past, unless there is strong political will to protect the rights of the families, they will be made homeless. They have
been served with a fresh eviction notice now which is saying that on 21 November, they will be evicted and made homeless. No contingency plan has been offered by the local authorities in Sao Paulo. They are prepared to see some 200 families made homeless and all the original owner to stake a claim in this building, even though they let it go to rack and ruin for 17 years and it is the Maua community that put in all their resources and skills to renovate this building so that it was habitable. Where are these families going to go? What is going to happen to them? They have been living their lives in this building for 10 years!
The eviction notice came as a shock to the residents as negotiations with the authorities had been going well.
The Mauá community have appealed to the Catholic community in England and Wales to stand by them in their struggle. Neti de Araújo, a community leader with the Mauá residents who in the past visited and met with CAFOD supporters, sent us this message:
“We are going through some really tough times; our rights are being violated. We in the Mauá community have spent 10 years living in this building which we have cleaned, looked after and made into a home for 237 families. For years, we have been negotiating for the acquisition of this building for social housing with an affordable rent. Now we are at risk of eviction. We have not been offered an alternative. We will have to leave our homes and live in the street. I am counting on you and your prayers.”
We are using the hashtag: #ficamaua let them stay. Please join with us in showing your support to this community. Show solidarity with the Mauá community by taking a picture of yourself holding a sign saying #ficamaua to share on Twitter with @CAFOD or Facebook.
No one deserves for their houses to be taken from them after this time. You can add your name to the petition to stop this eviction here. Help us reach 2000 signatures (only 150 to go at the time of writing). Please will you also share this petition on social media with your friends and family and, if you would like to share it within your parish, there is a petition you can print out here.