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As a Franciscan humanitarian organization, SEFRAS's principle is to act where there is human suffering. Thus, in addition to its five target audiences, the organization has an Emergency Response Program that is implemented whenever groups or territories need urgent action in the face of catastrophes, incidents or humanitarian crises.

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Operating on the outskirts of Petrópolis (RJ) for almost 20 years, SEFRAS has begun, on February 16, 2022, an emergency response action in the city of Rio de Janeiro, devastated by heavy rains. The Franciscans' technical team remained on site, offering care and solidarity to the victims of the storms that began on Tuesday (the 15th) and left thousands of families homeless and hundreds of people dead.


After an initial diagnosis, the Franciscans articulated with the civil defense, firefighters, army, other social organizations and managers of public facilities that work in humanitarian emergencies like this. “Our mission is to welcome, care for and defend those in need, no matter where they are. We take our work and Franciscan solidarity to our Petropolitan brothers and sisters for the sake of life”, said SEFRAS president director, Friar José Francisco de Cássia dos Santos.

Read the daily bulletins of our Franciscan Action SOS Petrópolis


Named Franciscan Action and Solidarity, the initiative was based on the Covid-19 Combat Plan, which created strategies and immediate solutions to urgent problems from the services of SEFRAS.


"We will never close our doors to those in need". The phrase resonated like a mantra in the spaces of the organization, engaging workers, volunteers, partners, donors, public managers and other social organizations to join the Franciscans in defending those most vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic.

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"Before the fever will come the hunger". Another phrase that ran in the corridors of SEFRAS, in March 2020, proved to be premonitory. The first impact of the pandemic was the lack of food.

On the one hand, thousands of families from highly vulnerable communities lost their 

informal jobs or small jobs they used to have. With no income for more than two days, in a week they were out of food. On the other hand, the homeless people, without being able to isolate themselves, wandered in search of an open place to receive a plate of food.

These two worlds would intersect during the pandemic. Formed mostly by unaccompanied men, the street population underwent a change in profile, accelerated by the health crisis. In a few months, entire families, including single mothers, swelled this contingent.


It was necessary to feed these two worlds with different strategies. The challenge was to act in an emergency way in the communities, based on a logic of groundwork, while at the same time it was necessary to feed people on the streets, with the donation of a plate of food.

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On March 19, a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the pandemic, SEFRAS made a public commitment to continue the work of caring for people in its services and expanding activities where necessary. More: following sanitary measures, it would protect its workers and the people served with the utmost care.

In the days following the beginning of the quarantine in São Paulo (March 27) and due to the high demand for SEFRAS equipment, the first Franciscan Tent was implemented, in Largo São Francisco, in São Paulo. With 200 square meters, the space was created to receive donations, health care and sanitation for the homeless population, training of volunteers and, mainly, food for the homeless and unemployed population in the center of the capital.

The initiative brought together companies, public managers, donors, activists, organizations and social movements to take care of those who had nothing to eat or even how to prevent themselves from Covid-19. The tent became a social technology that, in June, would be implemented in Largo da Carioca, in downtown Rio de Janeiro.In São Paulo, due to the increase in homeless families, SEFRAS set up Casa Franciscana, in the Glicério neighborhood, where 600 meals were offered daily, in addition to social assistance to this group.In parallel with the initiatives to feed homeless and unemployed people – after all, almost 40% of the people in the queue had somewhere to live, they just couldn't get enough food –, the organization started a work of distributing basic food baskets. During the year, there were 33,217, which contributed to the feeding of more than 6,000 families in the vicinity of SEFRAS services in occupations, vulnerable communities and parishes.

To ensure the greatest possible safety for all workers, volunteers, participants and those served, a Covid-19 monitoring group was installed, with health professionals. The Covid-19 Combat Plan prepared at the beginning of the pandemic and regularly revised was certified by the “Fiocruz Tá Junto” seal.


Among the prevention actions there were determinations on the removal of people in the at-risk group, use of PPE (personal protective equipment), social distancing and access to materials for hand hygiene. All PPE used by workers, volunteers and assisted were made available by SEFRAS.


Another measure to increase the safety of the entire team of workers and volunteers was to acquire quick tests for Covid-19. In times of health service overload, we were also able to test participants and ensure that they received the necessary medical referral.


In order to increase the autonomy of each one in the confrontation and train multipliers among team members and participants, 75 training courses were offered on Covid-19, personal protective equipment, hygiene and vaccination.

São Paulo Tent was dismantled at the end of 2020, when permanent service from SEFRAS, Chá do Padre, fully assumed the meals offered by the space.

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Results 2020/2021

During all this time, the tents were responsible for more than 1.9 million donated meals that, if monetized, would cost more than R$12,600,000. More than that, people who passed through our tents were welcomed with a balanced Franciscan meal with at least 500g of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables and greens.

  • Total lunchboxes at Tenda de São Paulo: 1,165,600 (until November 2020)

  • Number of daily meals during peak emergency: 5,600

  • Total lunchboxes in the Rio de Janeiro Tent: 134,400

  • Total food baskets: 48,217 (donated to communities around SEFRAS services: Aldeia Guaranis do Jaraguá, 6 occupations, 4 community networks, 11 churches and pastorals and 6 social organizations.

  • Total volunteer hours: 14,320

Total lunchboxes at Tenda de São Paulo:


(until November 2020)

Total lunchboxes in the Rio de Janeiro Tent:


Total volunteer hours:


Number of daily meals during peak emergency:


Total of basic baskets:


donated to communities around SEFRAS services: Aldeia Guaranis do Jaraguá, 6 occupations, 4 community networks, 11 churches and pastorals and 6 social organizations.


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