Today, I am leaving the vibrant country of Brazil. A place as warm as the people themselves.
A s I wait at the airport I can’t help but reflect on the week that was, and want to share the experiences that it brought me.
Here’s my best of Brazil.
Monte Azul – A favela built with opportunity
The experience that will stay with me forever is seeing power of community working together to build the São Paulo favela of Monte Azul.
I’m not just talking about bricks and mortar… they did that too. But the more important thing that they have built is a community that wants to make sure that all its inhabitants can overcome the odds.
I spent the day wandering where it all began with Hully, a volunteer now full-time employee of Monte Azul. She explained to me that a high proportion of the Monte Azul population was unemployed, so the community put them to use, to build natural birthing clinics, woodwork centers, medical centers, libraries, recycling plants, gardens and nature reserves, kindergartens, schools, workshops and even a discount clothing store – that all employee people from the community.
I was so inspired to see a group of people who the odds were against come together to build their way to a brighter future. The community of Monte Azul got bigger than the favela itself, to create new opportunity centers in other favelas.
My take out was that when we unite, we can overcome all odds. I will never forget this experience.
The resilience of nature
This same determination to overcome the odds that I saw in the residents of Monte Azul is also shown in the ‘The miracle leaf’ or ‘Life plant’ Bryophyllum.
It spawns 20 new plantlets and can grow even without soil. Miracle! That’s before we even discuss how it can help treat depression, anxiety and even prevent miscarriage.
The people behind the plants
Something I love seeing, no matter what the country, the culture or the role of the person I am talking with, is the commonality between Weleda staff members. A gentle passion to really make a difference, to help make changes to improve the world we live in.
I love meeting the people behind the products. When you see Moacyr Copani, Gardener at Chacara Garden, Weleda, Brazil tending his gardens of over 40 of medicinal plants it’s easy to see that this level of care doesn’t stem from the desire to make money… but something much deeper and personal than that. This garden is his life – from the very moment he was born, in the simple brick house on the property.
Moacyr tends to the land with his brother Paulo with as much care as their father – the first gardener who planted these very gardens himself. Even though Moacyr Snr is now in this 80’s, the three men still harvest together, it’s tradition.
The first thing I noticed as I entered the gates of Chacara, Weleda was how small the gardens were.
This surprises me every time. When we think of conventional working gardens we imagine vast amounts of land with flowers are far as the eye can see… but biodynamic gardens need a lot less space.
Having multiple plants in the garden helps them grown and the different plants make each other stronger to fighting off disease and pests. Conventional farming needs a lot more land because it cultivates from one plant, creating a monoculture which leaves the plants more receptive to disease and pests.
Our skin needs food too
Finding out that 60% of what we use on our skin can enter our bloodstream, is a daunting statistic.
I met leading natural dermatologist Dr. Patricia Silveori and listened to her presentation regarding looking after our skin. I found it really interesting that our skin needs food too… and we have to be just as careful what we feed it as our bodies. On average women use 12 beauty products a day, with over 168 different ingredients. Even just switching half of these products can have a huge impact.
I hope you have enjoyed going behind-the-scenes of Weleda Brazil as much as I have.
What was the most interesting thing you learnt?