Last Updated: 03/23/2021 

Brazil is experiencing a record number of daily COVID-19 deaths and the spread of a new, more contagious variant of the virus. Its health care system is overwhelmed and reportedly near collapse. Total COVID-19 deaths surpassed 260,000 in the first week of March. Brazil began a vaccination drive in January but less than 4% of the population had been vaccinated by March 4. The city of Rio de Janeiro is on partial lockdown. Several state and local governments across the country have mandated restrictions. Millions of people are unemployed, and there is concern over a mounting financial crisis. 

Only a handful of child development centers are open for normal activities. Most can only carry out activities virtually or with small groups of children and youths. Local partners are making every effort to provide for the basic needs of beneficiaries, including the delivery of more than 373,400 food baskets and 287,500 hygiene kits. Additionally, they have provided medical support to over 24,000 people.

How is Compassion Currently Operating in Brazil?

Below, you will find the latest information on how Compassion is currently operating in Brazil, including status updates on center openings, letter delivery and gift delivery. This is the most current information we have, though it can change quickly. Please know that all children and their families are being checked in on regularly by staff, either in person or by phone, even if the Compassion center is not open for programming.

Are Compassion Centers Open?

Centres in Brazil have begun a phased reopening. Most are carrying out activities virtually or with small groups of children and youths. Staff members continue to call and check in on families, and in some communities, they can visit children while obeying social distancing guidelines. Because of the generous support of sponsors and donors, they have been able to distribute about 373,400 food baskets and 287,000 hygiene kits to children and their families!

Are Children Receiving Letters?

The majority of letters are delayed in Brazil which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered! 

Are Gifts Being Delivered?

Gifts continue to be distributed in Brazil, although they are currently delayed. In some communities, staff members have needed to disburse monetary gifts to an appropriate, verified caregiver. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will be notified whether a gift has been designated as a child gift or family gift. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognizing that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

Story From the Field

In mid-May, José started to feel pain in his lower belly, and his parents took him to the neighborhood health center. Due to the peak of the pandemic in Brazil, hospitals had prioritized treating patients with suspected COVID-19. The 13-year-old boy was given pain medication and sent home. However, his pain became even stronger.

Desperate to help their son, José's parents were informed that the Happy Child Project Child Development Center, which José has attended since he was 6, had a doctor available for children's medical evaluations.

“José was getting purple lips and was in a lot of pain. I didn't know what to do, and my heart was desperate. If we hadn't seen the project doctor, I don't know how long my son would be able to wait for medical assistance or an ambulance,” says Tatiana, José's mother.

When Dr. Claudia examined José, she diagnosed him with appendicitis. She contacted the city hospital to prepare them for his arrival, and the center covered the teenager's transportation costs.

After surgery, José had to spend a few days in the hospital under medical observation for his complete recovery. Back at home, the Dr. Claudia and volunteers from the center continue to support the family and monitor José’s recovery.

“My father is out of a job because of the pandemic, so everything has become more difficult. However, my sponsor sent me a gift to buy food, and that helped us,” says José. “The center is helping my family a lot at this tough time for us. I am very grateful to them for not having left me alone or ignored my pain even in the pandemic.”

How can I pray for Brazil?

Pray that God will guide Brazilian authorities as they make difficult decisions to protect the people’s safety and economic well-being; pray that the pandemic will stop spreading.

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