Zilda Arns Neumann – Brazil

Linked with our presentation of The ‘Pastoral’ of the Child / Pastoral da Criança – Brazil.

And linked with our presentation on Improving Children’s Environmental Health.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “When I believe in something that could benefit humanity, I go to the end.”

Zilda Arns Neumann – Brazil

She works for the Pastoral da Criança (Pastoral of the Child)

Doctor Zilda Arns Neumann (born 1943) is a pediatric and sanitary doctor. Founder and national coordinator of Pastoral of the Child, an ecumenical organism of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (BNCB). She is also the president of the Intersectorial Commission of Indigenous Health. Recently, she took on the coordination of the elderly. Mother of five children, she is a collector of national and international prizes, granted in recognition to her work in Pastoral of the Child.Zilda Arns Neumann (1943), a pediatric and sanitary doctor, is the founder and national coordinator of the Pastoral of the Child, an ecumenical organism of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (BNCB). She is also president of the Inter-sectorial Commission of Indigenous Health. Recently, she took on the coordination of programs for the elderly. A mother of five children, she is a collector of national and international prizes, granted in recognition of her work in the Pastoral of the Child.

She was born in a small community in the state of Santa Catarina, in the South of Brazil. Forquilinha was so small that everyone knew each other. It was in her childhood that Zilda Arns had the inspiration for her future: “My mom studied homemade medicine in German books. She saw people and knew who needed to go to the hospital and who could be treated at home.”

Another characteristic of the family was discipline. “We had to wake up very early to milk the cow.” According to her, this discipline was providential: “I have no difficulties starting very early and facing 15 hours of work”. In Zilda Arns’s days there is always work to be done. She coordinates a true factory of solidary information. The ‘Pastoral’ of the Child, created in 1983, is present in 36,258 communities, spread throughout more than 3757 Brazilian cities. The basis of work are thes volunteer. Its philosophy is not to give the bread, but to multiply the information.

Information can mean the difference between life and death in regard to children between 0 and 6 years old. Pregnant and poor mothers are educated in matters of nutrition, nursing, food preparation, the correct use of drinking water, the preparation of homemade saline solution, basic hygiene. To monitor the progress, there is the Weighing Day – also known as the Day of the Celebration of Life: Weekly, the children are weighed while mothers and grandmothers exchange information and knowledge. In more than 20 years of working with the ‘Pastoral’, Zilda affirms that “the women are very creative and they have tremendous force”

Zilda Arns is a catholic woman. She believes that hope, along with solidarity, is the antidote against poverty. “God did not create injustice, it was created by humanity. So the conclusion is: society needs to solve its inequities.

The ‘Pastoral’ of the Child (Pastoral da Criança) works with more than 242,000 volunteers, mostly women. It reaches 1.3 million poor families. Its actions have impact on the reduction of child mortality. The work is so efficient that it has been used as an example for other countries.

Prizes: The work of Pastoral da Criança has caused its founder and National Coordinator, Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann, to receive many awards, among which some of the most important are:

1988: Special Honor by UNICEF – Brazil – regarded the most important Brazilian personality for excellence in work on children’s health;

1994: a) OPAS (Pan American Health Organization) Prize, Washington, in Public Health Administration, for the relevant work in governmental and non-governmental entities in the State of Paraná, in the Mother and Child Coordination of the Health Ministry and primarily in the development of Pastoral da Criança, as its National Coordination;

b) The National Order of Educative Merit knight insignia. The Insignia was handed by the President of the Republic of Brazil, Mr. Itamar Franco, as Great Master of the Brazilian Orders;

1997: a) International Humanitarian of the Year Prize, from Lions Club International, awarded to the coordinators of non-profit entities which excel through their work in favor of human promotion;

b) Dr. Neumann was honored for her work in Human Rights by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso;

1998: Jean Harris Prize awarded by Rotary International, Curitiba, State of Paraná;

1999: Human Rights Medal from the Jewish entity B’nai B’rith, recognizing her work as the coordinator of the Pastoral da Criança as an entity that fights for the quality of life;

2000: a) Tribute of respect by the National Council of Brazilian Women in the category of Women/Medicine, for her important contribution to the social, political and economical development of Brazil;

b) Honor received from the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics for her important contribution to pediatric doctors and to Brazilian children;

c) Simon Bolivar Medal from the International Chamber for Research and Social Integration recognizing her leadership, dignity, professional merit and love of humanity in the cause of Integration of Latin America;

d) Honor awarded by the Franz de Castro Holzwarth Prize from the Lawyer’s Bar of the State of São Paulo, acknowledging the courageous work to the enhancement of children and adolescent citizenship;

e) National Businessmen Guideline (PNBE – Pensamento Nacional das Bases Empresariais) Citizenship Prize – offered to individuals or entities for relevant works of citizenship;

f) U.S.P. Human Rights Prize (University of São Paulo);

2001: a) Dr. Neumann received honors and honorable mentions from the Cities Councils of Fortaleza in Ceará, São Paulo – the capital of the state of São Paulo, Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais and Forquilhinha in Santa Catarina;

b) Woman Prize 2001, offered by ANATEL (the national company for telecomunications), for her efforts in assisting children;

c) Pedro Ernesto Medal from the City Council of Rio de Janeiro;

d) Human Rights Prize offered by the United Nations Association (ONU) – Brazil;

e) Social Distinction Prize by ADVB Institute in São Paulo;

f) “Antonieta de Barros” Merit Medal, granted by the Legislative Assembly of Florianópolis / SC;

g) “Paul Harris” Medal, offered by the Rotary Club International;

h) Awarded as one of the 20 Social Leaders in Brazil in the year 2001, from Ethos Institute and Gazeta Mercantil;

i) Insignia of the Ordem de Rio Branco, as a “Commendador”, granted by the President of Brazil, Mr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso;

k) Dra. Zilda Arns Neumann was awarded the Human Rights Prize 2000 by the United Nations Association – Brazil;

2002: Elected “Americas´ Public Health Hero ” by the Pan American Health Organization .

Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann is an honorary citizen in 8 the states and 21 Brazilian towns, in recognition for her work in the PASTORAL DA CRIANÇA.

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