No, Thank You. I Am Working: Brazil's Hands-On Environmental Solution

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No, Thank You. I Am Working: Brazil's Hands-On Environmental Solution

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No, Thank You. I Am Working: Brazil's Hands-On Environmental Solution blog by @SAP's @evwelsh #sapcsr

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Monday, July 16, 2012 - 5:20pm


by Evan Welsh, SAP

The third largest city in Brazil, Belo Horizonte (BH), is no different than any other city or town in the world in that it produces tons of trash each day. Unlike other places, BH boasts thousands of “catadores,” who remove the garbage, usually at night when there is less traffic, cart it to a central collection facility that is crawling with rats (but there are enough dogs to chase them away), and separate by gloveless hand their massive load into reusable recyclable materials – paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. While there is no exact translation of “catadore,” since it’s a Brazilian profession, the Portuguese word roughly translates to garbage collectors or collectors of recyclable materials.

The “catadores,” are providing a very valuable service to the city. And, ASMARE, an association of “catadores,” is giving them something no one else will – the opportunity to work for a living, something they were eager to do anyway. In fact, we heard a telling story of how a passer-by recently tried to give a catadore some change, thinking she was homeless and in need. Thanks to ASMARE, the proud woman could reply, “No, thank you. I am working.”

Many of ASMARE’s employees were homeless, including Adriano, who started as a catodore. He is now the head chef of the beautiful downtown restaurant, Reciclo (pictured), which is owned by ASMARE and which serves a mouth-watering lunch each day to patrons from nearby businesses. Each day Adriano, a tall man with a contagious smile, comes out of the kitchen wearing his hairnet, to make sure the buffet meets his approval and the customers are happy. He is also now studying management at the local university.

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Keywords: Volunteerism & Community Engagement | ASMARE | Belo Horizonte | Brazil | Catadore | Corporate Social Responsibility | SAP | Social Good | Social Sabbatical | community | csr