Neuci's Story: Health in a Brazilian Favela

Neuci and her daughters Rebecca and Mariana, live in the favela of Cachoeirinha, population 150,000, outside Rio de Janiero.

“BEMFAM is the sun and the sunshine needs to spread. The rays must reach more people…

When BEMFAM first came to the community we thought their clinic was for rich people. But, as we began to use the clinic, we realized it’s for us too. We are always treated with dignity and respect and given the highest quality of care. I go to the clinic for all of my gynecology needs, including contraception and cancer screenings. My two daughters attend the youth meetings and go to the clinic for their care. BEMFAM’s work here is really important and should be expanded because BEMFAM can only afford to provide 25 free clinic visits a month.

I work in the nursery next to the community center here in Cachoeirinha. It is run by the municipal government. I come from a long line of women community leaders. My mother was a community leader and so was I in a neighboring favela for many years. Apparently leading is in our blood because I’m teaching my daughters to do the same.

We have a very small clinic that provides basic health care. There is also a maternity hospital nearby. The public healthcare system is bankrupt, though, and the quality of care is very poor. This is a place where slaves lived in the past – a place of suffering. In the entire community we have only one lawyer and people usually only go to school until the third grade; many people cannot read. We also suffer from a high level of violence because of the drug dealers and addicts. In our communities mother still do not talk to their children about sex. Women have ten or more children and there is a high rate of HIV among young people. But when BEMFAM’s project began women in the community started to think more about their lives and their possibilities. I want my daughters to be able to be whatever they want to be – to have the opportunity to be a nurse, a social worker, whatever they want. I want the same thing for myself.”


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