The Vincentian Family is now starting the 13 Houses Project, a worldwide campaign
that celebrates 400 years of Vincentian Charisma, and whose objective is to build
houses and give dignity to those who have nowhere to live. The project will build eight
houses for families living in extreme poverty in the Sepetiba neighborhood, on the west
side of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
These habitations will be built on two lots and the works will be carried out in
partnership with three engineering companies, which will carry out the work at cost
price. The Vincentian Family will count on the mobilization and collaboration of
everyone to furnish and equip the interiors with appliances, kitchen utensils, bed and
bath items, wardrobes, sofas and whatever else is necessary for the basic functioning
of a home. The goal is to have the eight houses ready by April 2023.
Vincent’s 13 Houses – The inspiration for the 13 Houses Project dates back to 1643,
when Saint Vincent de Paul received a cash donation from King Louis XIII to invest in
the mission of his congregation. Father Vincent chose to use the money to build 13
small houses near Saint Lazarus, where the Mother House of the Congregation of the
Mission in France is located, in order to take care of abandoned children. Vincent saw
a need and responded with concrete actions. The running costs of these houses were
borne by the Ladies of Charity, while the Daughters of Charity took care of the children.
By working together, the Vincentian Family helped save thousands of children who
would have died on the streets.
Today, we face the same problems that Vincent faced in 17th century France, but on a
global scale. Of the almost 8 billion people that inhabit the planet, about one billion are
homeless, living in precarious conditions, in slums or on the streets of our cities,
according to data from the United Nations. Many of these people are rejected in their
greatest time of need, a stark reminder of those words that dampen the joy of Luke’s
nativity narrative: “There was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). The 13 Houses
Campaign was created in response to this reality, learning and borrowing from the work
of Saint Vincent himself.
Rio de Janeiro 13 Houses Project – The six families chosen by the Daughters of
Charity to benefit from the project in Rio de Janeiro are blood related. The matriarch,
Iara Barbosa, is 55 years old and was born into a family of shellfish gatherers. Her
main sources of income were fishing and shellfish gathering on Sepetiba Beach. But
the pollution of the beach after the building of the port of Sepetiba made fishing
impossible and drastically reduced the breeding of shellfish. As a result, her and her
family’s income was directly affected and they started to work as collectors of
recyclable materials, which they try to sell to secure some support. Iara and her six
children’s families total 36 people, the youngest being six months old. They live in six
shacks on the same plot of land, with no proper sanitation or minimum conditions of
hygiene and in high food insecurity.
The land where the families currently live will be turned into a storage shed for the
recyclable material they collect. It will become the place of work for those families. In
addition to the storage shed, two houses will be built in this same location, one for Iara
and the other for one of her children, who, together with her, will be responsible for
taking care of the shed.
FAMVIN actions in Latin America – Vincent’s 13 Houses global campaign has already
carried out actions in Latin America – in the state of Paraná and in the Mexican city of
Hueyapan, which was hit by an earthquake in 2017, when 80% of the houses were
destroyed, including the parish and the town hall. On that occasion, the mobilization of
FAMVIN was fundamental to rebuild the village. “We realized that, by joining forces, we
can achieve important things for many people,” said a Mexican volunteer from
FAMVIN. Watch the video: https://youtu.be/HnIEolzKZA8