Less than 30 kilometers separate Refettorio Gastromotiva, in Lapa, from the headquarters of Projeto Amparando, in Jardim Gramacho, Duque de Caxias. This was the destination of a group of 12 social entrepreneurs from different parts of the world in their first Social Gastronomy Summit Rio Workshop. The project showed a scenario of extreme poverty and limited conditions of hygiene and health in which the community lives around what was once the fourth largest dump in Latin America.

In the community, with around five thousand residents, Amparando attends to 155 children offering school reinforcement, twice-a-day meals, arts and social, psychological and legal assistance to their families, totaling more than 100 beneficiaries. Established in 2014, Amparando began with an improvised seat in the middle of the sanitary landfill, where there were no toilets or water. Over the years and with the help of donations, the project moved to the current home where representatives of the Social Gastronomy Movement met to discuss nutrition and the food chain. “Many people in the community still survive from the garbage,” says Ecila Barbosa, a project’s volunteer. 

To integrate the project, children need to comply with certain requirements: being enrolled and attending school, having the immunization record up to date, and having at least one person in the family working. “We seek to insert these beneficiaries into society in an active way and we prefer to teach the possibilities”, says the volunteer. As part of the activities, Amparando also offers training workshops for women, such as manicure, baking and sweets. The institution is maintained with the help of seven volunteers, donations, sponsoring some children and holding some events throughout the year.

The landfill, which existes since 1976, was officially decommissioned in 2012. “The landfill continues to run clandestinely but today the trucks have declined. With this, also the ‘sustenance’ of these families “, tells Ecila. The representatives of the Social Gastronomy Movement participated in a presentation of the project and its activities, followed by a workshop with the children of Amparando to set up a small garden of spices. The learning journey ended with a visit to the landfill and the makeshift homes of families still surviving.

Text: Bárbara Rafaelli

Photos: Carlos Leandro