Turning Trash Into Treasure

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Turning Trash Into Treasure

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Check out Evan Welsh's latest blog, Turning Trash into Treasure, from his social sabbatical in #Brazil. http://3bl.me/gbbqw8 #sapcsr

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Monday, July 23, 2012 - 3:25pm


by Evan Welsh, SAP

After spending a week working at ASMARE, an association of “catadores” or garbage collectors in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I have come to truly appreciate the staff’s unrelenting commitment and passion to reduce poverty and homelessness. By providing meaningful employment to many of the city’s outcasts and neglected, whose livelihood depend on collecting and separating garbage, ASMARE is more than just an employer to its nearly 200 official collectors. It’s a provider of hope and a path to a new life that includes housing and access to healthcare and education.

No one personifies this optimism more than Dona Geralda, who looks much younger than her 73 years and has boundless energy to match. She founded ASMARE 22 years ago and has become a celebrity in her own right, having traveled the world to give lectures and meet with dignitaries. However, on any given day she can still be seen separating paper, cardboard and plastic at one of the main collection sites. “I can do it better and faster than the others,” she said with a smile in her eyes.

During a recent visit, our team of SAP volunteers – Lena, Jan and I are spending a month developing a communications plan for ASMARE – had the opportunity to meet Dona Geralda’s husband Seu Zezinho (84), who was sitting on an old chair, donning what looked like a sparkling gold Carnival hat, patiently removing the metal tabs off of cans. He said, through a translator, that he wanted to look nice for our visit, and that he did. Married for more than 50 years, they have nine children – the first when Dona Geralda was 16 – and nine grandchildren.

Continue reading Evan Welsh's blog on Turning Trash into Treasure on Forbes.com >>