AECOM Impact Blog: Building Emergency Homes in Brazil
AECOM employees Nathalia Marins, accounting analyst, and Juliana Silva, project analyst, environment, share their experiences volunteering to build two emergency homes for families in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Many times, we live in our comfort zone within our own enclosed world and do not realize what happens outside of it. Social inequality and poverty are problems that affect many countries nowadays, and the experience we received — with support from AECOM’s employees in Brazil along with TETO — makes it clear how beneficial it can be to step outside of that comfort zone.
TETO is a non-governmental organization present in Latin America and the Caribbean that seeks to overcome poverty for millions of people in poor communities through collaboration among residents and young volunteers. In one weekend of unforgettable experiences, volunteers are exposed to a different view of reality by building a house for a needy family.
We partnered with TETO to complete a 162-square-foot emergency house in Vila Beira Mar, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in two days — working with other youth volunteers and families in the community. Shortly after sharing our amazing experience with a few of our colleagues, AECOM made a commitment to fund the construction of an emergency house in Jardim Gramacho, a disabled landfill in Rio de Janeiro, and mobilized eight other employees to join us.
Upon entering the area, the poverty level in the community is extremely evident. The first steps you take into the area, you see and smell a polluted river, and mountains of garbage and dirt. There is a stark sense of abandonment, and feelings of compassion and sadness are an immediate rush. On the other hand, the residents help take a bit of the focus away from the poverty as you witness very happy revelers, a love for loud music and children playing.
The opportunity to donate your own physical work to help a family is very pleasurable. Ten people are needed to build an emergency house in two days. This team is united and focused — always working together, and helping and motivating one another at times when strength and stamina are essential. The energy that the community transfers to the team, especially from the children, gives us the fuel to continue.
The construction of the house is beneficial to both sides. The family that receives the house sees it as a way to live with more security, comfort and dignity. And, the volunteers learn to work as a team, overcome physical and psychological limits and respect each other’s differences.
Although very hard and tiring, the work with TETO was an extremely enriching experience, helping us grow both personally and professionally. We thank AECOM for giving us the opportunity to participate on this project.
With nearly 100,000 employees — including architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management and construction services professionals — serving clients in more than 150 countries around the world following the acquisition of URS, AECOM is a premier, fully integrated infrastructure and support services firm. AECOM is ranked as the #1 engineering design firm by revenue in Engineering News-Record magazine’s annual industry rankings. The company is a leader in all of the key markets that it serves, including transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, oil and gas, water, high-rise buildings and government. AECOM provides a blend of global reach, local knowledge, innovation and technical excellence in delivering solutions that create, enhance and sustain the world's built, natural and social environments. A Fortune 500 company, AECOM companies, including URS, had revenue of $19.2 billion during the 12 months ended June 30, 2014. More information on AECOM and its services can be found at www.aecom.com.
AECOM Technology Corporation
Ed Mayer, +1.732.564.3380
Director, Corporate Communications