Project Managers: Antonio Veiga Neto and Tiago Veronez Veiga
Recicla Vida (Recycling Lives) came into being in 1998 as an initiative to help families living off the trash in the “Lixão de Bongaba” (an immense garbage dump) in Magé. Magé is the destination of a large part of the trash produced daily by the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Families in favellas bordering Lixão de Bongaba survive off the sale of recyclable materials foraged from the trash, feeding themselves from the rotten food scraps found therein, and living in conditions of extreme poverty. Unwilling to accept this situation, Recicla Vida, in partnership with the Instituto da Criança, first mobilized a group of volunteers to organize and distribute Cestas Basicas* to 300 families (1,200 people) who were registered for the program. (*Cestas Basicas* are 20 kg food baskets of basic non-perishable foods, to subsist a family.)
Monthly, Recicla Vida now distributes 6 tons of food, in addition to clothing, shoes, household utensils and toys. With the voluntary participation of many professionals, other programs have been added aiming to improve the conditions of the families: medical assistance, distribution of free medicine, and various educational activities.
A small clinic within a large community center structure has been built, which also includes a display room for locally-produced handicraft. The facility is used for a range of activities including educational activities, hygiene and health awareness. Additionally, youth programs are offered, including clown shows, music and other activities that bring a little bit of joy and fun to the children who live there in the favellas.
Future programs include developing new social activities such as adult literacy classes, sports, musical and artistic activities geared towards the children of the community as well as vocational training for the many that desperately need employment opportunities.