Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Current Activities (keeping you up to date with Mundo Real)

At this time Mundo Real is focusing primarily on long-term organizational development which involves community-based education and research programs. We are continuing our past services but on a smaller scale. The scale back is a result of our current fiscal situation, as well as a result of strategic decisions made by the Mundo Real leadership over the last few months. We have placed more importance on addressing the most critical cases that cannot wait for long-term social change to occur. Mundo Real is committed to action and hands on work, and this will not change.
Also, as this letter goes out we are closer than ever to submitting all of the requirements necessary to receive our much deserved 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the US. And by June we should be an officially registered nonprofit organization in Brazil. Once these essential steps are reached we will be eligible for considerably more funding sources and be able to continue our past activities while implementing our planned activities by engaging in successful fundraising efforts. The continuation and expansion of our services are dependent on financial contributions that we hope to obtain from private individuals and philanthropic foundations. However, Mundo Real also desires to increasingly become more self-sufficient through social entrepreneurialism. This transition will take some time and attaining 501(c)(3) status will greatly help us in the present and near future.
Our experience has taught us a great deal about direct service, sustainability and community development in general over the past two years. Thus we are currently implementing new initiatives to make our organization significantly more effective and sustainable.
Over two years of experience has taught us that a small CBO cannot adequately tackle the enormous social problems of a community the size of Rocinha through direct service alone. In order to be most effective we need to focus on and expand the development of local leadership, empowering residents to take personal charge of their needs and their community’s situation. Our goal is to encourage and assist local residents so that they can mobilize around the issues that most directly concern them. Mundo Real is dedicated to dealing with the issues at their roots. This kind of capacity building and empowerment was the original goal of Mundo Real and we are returning to it with full force.
Based on analysis of past experiences, we have decided to center the brunt of our development initiatives in the Laboriaux (pronounced like: law-boor-e-or) neighborhood of Rocinha. Laboriaux is a narrow and long area of Rocinha located at the top very of the community, 1000 feet above sea level.  It has a population of approximately 10,000 and it is an area of Rocinha with a high level of socio-economic inequality. By creating a pilot project in Laboriaux we will be able to test our theories and our methodology’s success more accurately. If our efforts prove successful in Laboriaux we intend to create similar pilot projects in other strategic areas of Rocinha. This is a very feasible goal for our small team, replacing the near impossible goal of trying to cope with the critical needs of the entire community of Rocinha (pop. 200,000). The high level of inequality in Laboriaux will provide fertile ground for us to assess how government and other aid resources are distributed in the area and whether they are actually reaching the most vulnerable residents of Laboriaux.

Report from Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Mundo Real’s New York team arrived in Rio de Janeiro from New York on February 13th with luggage stuffed full of donations. The very next week we began distributing these supplies, and as the photos illustrate, the wheel chair was put into immediate usage. On February 20th Mundo Real accompanied FUNLAR, a municipal government agency that attends to people with disabilities, on one of their outings. FUNLAR only arranged for the participation of one disabled resident of Rocinha to go on the outing. However, Mundo Real, on extremely short notice, was able to get eleven more disabled residents to come along. One by one we assisted with their transportation to the van, into the van, and then to the park. Among those were two elderly widows with severe amputations which prevent them from being able to walk at all. One of them, Dona Maria do Fortunato was the recipient of the wheel chair that George Contreras help secure for Mundo Real and she can be seen in the photos utilizing it.

The day was beautiful and sunny. Many of the community residents cried tears of joy. It is rare for most of them to leave their homes for anything other than medical emergencies or appointments. In fact, Dona Osório, a rather lively woman, who suffers from disabilities as a result of a stroke, proclaimed with her typical humor “this outing is much better than the ones I usually go on ... to the hospital.” The most touching part of the day was completely unplanned. Another Dona Maria (very typical name in Brazil) who has both legs amputated up the hips asked everyone to join hands while she led a powerful and moving prayer. It was incredible to see this elderly women, a resident of a third world slum and with both legs amputated so full of thanksgiving and hope. It was truly moving to say the least.

The point of this story is to illustrate that without a committed Community Based Organization (CBO) the outing would have been a failure. FUNLAR only made arrangements for one resident to come and only because she did not need much help getting to the van because her teenage daughter assisted her. If we had not organized for the others to come FUNLAR would have had to cancel the outing. The point is clear, community leaders and organizations are essential in holding government and private entities accountable and assisting them in community matters. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thank You from the Mundo Real family

Dear Friends,

We would like to give a special thank you to everyone who contributed to and attended our Fundraiser at St. Rita's Church in Long Island City, New York. We hope that everyone had a great time and ate plenty of Feijoada! Again, your support is vital to our capacity to provide community development and educational programs in marginalized communities.

Because of your support we are able to continue to offer assistance to the most vulnerable residents of the community of Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro. In February Marcos Burgos and Rick Echevarria will return to Rocinha to continue working alongside local residents to ensure the continuation of our programs there. In addition, Mundo Real also has plans to develop some new programs with the residents in Rocinha in 2009.

We would like to especially thank Copacabana Pizza and Grill, Barril Grill, and Point Brazil Restaurant for all of the delicious food they each contributed, St. Rita's Church for providing the setting, the projector, and other resources, and to all our volunteers, friends and family members who support our work in Rio for this cause.

If you could not make it to the event and you still would like to support Mundo Real, please visit our website where you can learn more about our work by watching some of our videos and where you can also utilize our 2009 Wish List to help in guiding you when making a contribution.

2009 Wish List (http://www.1mundoreal.org/2009WishList)

Contribute Page (http://www.1mundoreal.org/Contribute.html)

In the spirit of grassroots organizing and social justice, we would also like to wish everyone a Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a momentous and historic Inauguration Day tomorrow.


The Mundo Real Family

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mundo Real Fundraiser Party in Astoria, New York City

On SUNDAY JANUARY the 11th, 2009 at 2:00pm Mundo Real will hold a party fundraiser to benefit our education and sustainable development programs currently taking place in the favela of Rocinha, in Rio de Janeiro.

The event will take place at Santa Rita’s Church, in Long Island City in the event room next to the Church parking lot. The benefit will feature live Brazilian music, food and drink, as well as a presentation by Mundo Real.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance by calling Marcos (347-617-9069) or Ricarte (646-306-4510) or you can purchase online here:

click on the link below to purchase a ticket online:

Here are directions to the event:

View Larger Map

There will also be an after Party at CHATEAU BRASIL!!!!!! at 38-o2 29th Street. L.I.C., N.Y. 11101
(718) 729-3300

All proceeds will go to Mundo Real community programs.

View Larger Map

Read more about our community programs below

Addressing The Needs Of The Community's Most Vulnerable Residents

Mundo Real engages in educational and sustainable development programs within impoverished communities of Latin America and the Caribbean. We strive to reduce disparities in health, housing, education and employment while improving living and environmental conditions in local communities. In doing so we work alongside and support local organizations and residents. Mundo Real is an independent organization, with neither religious nor political affiliations.

  • Mundo Real conducts educational programs designed for community and individual empowerment. Our most recent educational endeavors have been centered on public health and information technology training. We have lead workshops in disease prevention, administration of prescription medication, how to access available resources, and other community health concerns in order to empower local residents. We also provide IT training for residents who are involved in community betterment initiatives.
  • Community-based collaborative research (CBCR). Mundo Real uses this method in order to effectively adapt research-based interventions for use in our Education and Sustainable Development programs. With two years intensive field research in Latin America, particularly in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, three scholarly publications in US Academic Journals and Encyclopedias, and two articles awaiting publication (Fall 2009) Mundo Real remains dedicated to research based action.
Sustainable Community Development

  • Working at the local level alongside residents Mundo Real develops inclusive programs aimed at addressing the most pressing needs of the community. To address these needs we arrange home visits, food/aid delivery, and public health organizing as well as other direct services. Since early 2007 we have been conducting routine home visits to special needs residents. We have also been helping residents gain access to basic supplies of food that are provided by the local residents association. We have helped secure donations of critical resources such as oxygen tanks, diapers, milk, wheel chairs, and medical supplies. In addition, we have been organizing direct services such as scheduling doctor’s appointments and arranging transportation for residents who are unable to do so as a result of the challenges of living in an urban slum.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

First Steps new services...

The community project of Primeiros Passos (First Steps) is now providing two new services to those in need in Rocinha.

  1. First Steps members have been taking residents with hearing problems to receive free hearing aids in Duque de Caixias, RJ. The journey is long and far, many residents are unaware of this service available to them. First Steps has been publicizing within the community about the service as well as providing transportation.

  • The other service now offered by First Steps is domestic physical therapy, available to those who have suffered from a stroke. This service is much needed as so many residents have difficulties leaving their homes (watch our documentary about primeiros passos and transportation within Rocinha) and thanks to the cooperative of motorcycle taxis in Rocinha, Solange Oliveira can provide the service and receive a small salary to do so.

March 1st Benefit at Rocket Club in Asheville, NC

We want to give thanks to all of those who have supported us thus so far. A special thanks to those who came out to our March 1st event in Asheville, NC to support the project First Steps.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

JANUARY / FEBRUARY Report and Special Fund Raising Event on March 1st.

On March 1st Mundo Real will host an informative and festive fundraising PARTY for the First Steps project in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Rocket Club in West Asheville. If you happen to be in the area please come join us at 8pm. Musical entertainment will include live performances by Jar-e, Banana da Terra, Zambumba, and Jonathon Scales. The event is certain to raise your awareness of our efforts in Brazil as well as get you in the dancing mood. In addition, there will be a silent art auction. Works provided by local artists will help raise funds for the efforts of First Steps in Rocinha. The evening begins at 8:00 PM and their will be a $10 cover at the door.

To date, First Steps has succeeded in coordinating basic services and assistance for 100 special needs residents in Rocinha. To reiterate, special needs residents are those with incapacitating mental and physical disabilities, the chronically ill, and the elderly. It is also important to repeat that most of these individuals, and their families, are unaware of their universal human rights, as well as those bestowed upon them as citizens of Brazil. This is evident from the sheer number of residents who have never received proper health care, and in some cases received no health care whatsoever.

To aid us in finding and identifying these individuals, in a community as heavily populated and complex as Rocinha, First Steps utilizes a list of over 600 special needs residents that we obtained from a local public agency. Our team has been working tirelessly to verify whether the list is accurate, up-to-date, and representative of Rocinha’s special needs population.

With this objective in mind First Steps is meticulously developing a complete and updated list of those with special needs. The numbers continue to increase well beyond those collected by the public agency, and as a result the need to provide basic services to these individuals increases as well. First Steps anticipates that its list of those with special needs will grow to over 1000 by the end of 2008.

First Steps and Mundo Real have conducted 75 in-depth interviews with these individuals and their families as part of an intensive research initiative intended to assist First Steps in organizing a comprehensive program plan built around education, prevention and direct assistance.

The services provided by First Steps continue in the area of transportation, advocacy, house visits, and health related education (including citizen and human rights training).

Mundo Real’s 2008 goals for the First Steps Project:

  1. Continue to sustain, expand and improve upon our current work efforts.
  2. Obtain a van adapted for disabled individuals. Having one specially equipped van would meet the first requirement of our transportation goal of eventually acquiring several vehicles for transporting special needs resident and thus vastly improving their ability to move.
  3. Acquire a storefront office space along Rocinha’s main road in order to better serve the needs of Rocinha's special needs population. This would allow us to become better known, significantly improving our presence in the community and our ability to inform locals of our project's activities. An office would function as a concrete location where we could enhance our capacity to organize advocacy-based services for community residents by providing educational workshops. We estimate, based on official census figures that as many as 5,000 residents in Rocinha could directly benefit from and utilize the support, educational, and organizational services that First Steps aims to expand/create.
  4. Prepare and distribute First Steps provided family food packages to those residents in most need of them.
  5. Initiate an increasingly prevention oriented movement that would include working with high risk youth, pregnant teenagers, and young mothers among other vulnerable groups in the community.