In early March, the Humanitas360 team was in São Luís, Maranhão (northeast Brazil), to coordinate efforts to open the Cuxá Social Cooperative at the São Luís Women’s Prison Unit (UPFEM). The initiative is a partnership with the National Council of Justice and the Government of Maranhão. Since the construction of the cooperative space is ready, we paid a visit to the women who participate in the project to give them the first work materials and to mobilize the local community: several partners, from both the public and private sectors, are on this journey with us.
A week later, due to the coronavirus epidemic and the risk of contagion within the extremely vulnerable prison population, we had to interrupt our work inside the unit. From home, we continue to mobilize designers, communicators and entrepreneurs to join us, creating models for future pieces and articulating a support network. We also had to postpone the cooperative opening event, set to take place on March 26 with the presence of singer Alcione — the godmother of the project –, Governor Flávio Dino, the National Council of Justice and members of various sectors of the state’s Executive and Judiciary branches. A new date will be set when access to the prison is secure.
Elaine, a 33 years old cooperative member, recalls: “There are talented people here who deserve a shot when they leave here, make a fresh start. And these things we produce here will get worldwide recognition. This is very rewarding for us.” Check some highlights from the week work and our meeting with cooperative members at UPFEM: