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United Nations Refugee Agency's Refugee-Led Innovation Fund Winner

A story from Brazil: Community Leaders Are Key Drivers For Solutions

Rio das Pedras is one of the biggest favelas in Brazil, located in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

Aiming to reduce malnutrition within the community, Semeando Amor’s mission is teaching people how to eat a healthy diet while taking full advantage of the food they get or buy. Introducing new recipes to the people is part of the solution. Understanding the target group, including their culture, circumstances and beliefs, is key. Vegetarian recipes, for example, are not accepted by some households as eating meat is seen as a privilege and sign of a “proper meal”.

“If you teach something that is not aligned with the food culture, they won’t cook it or buy the idea”, says Danielle, who volunteers with the organization,“As a consequence, they won’t trust the initiative or they will not incorporate it in their lives”.

Building connections with community leaders is crucial. The leader’s daily experience and relationship to the beneficiaries provide a unique perspective about the local culture. Gaining their trust and confidence, and sincerely wanting to understand the needs of the community, help the team pave the path towards new approaches and co-creating a solution that is humanity and reality centered.

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