Saint Dulce Pontes was known as Irmã Dulce dos Pobres (Sister Dulce of the poor) around Brazil. She began what is now one of the most well known organizations in the country, called the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce (Obras Sociais Irma Dulce).
She was born to an upper-middle class family and she lost her month at the age of six. At 13, she was introduced to the poverty in her city and she was forever changed.
She joined the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God at the age of 18. She was drawn to help the sick people she encountered in Salvador da Bahia and cared for them in an abandoned building. When they were kicked out, she asked her mother superior for help. She offered the convent's chicken coop, which Irmã Dulce converted into a space to care for the sick. This became the site of a hospital that continues to care for people.
As a personal antidote, I lived outside of Salvador in Brazil for 18 months. I saw the beautiful work that continues to be done in Irmã Dulce's name. Hospitals, schools, and other social programs that truly help the poor. Many of the children who lived in our village attended her school. In 2011, I was able to attend her beatification in the pouring rain and feel convicted to share this beautiful (now) saint with the world.
Irmã Dulce never dreamed of going to far off lands to help the poor. She saw those who were near her and served them. She never left her own community. Find a small way you can help those in your community today. With the pandemic, there seems to be even moreneed.
- School is starting across the country. Find a school in a poorer neighborhood and email to find out what kinds of supplies they are in need of. Head to target (or even shop around your house!) to support them.
- Go through your closet to pull clothes that are still in good condition, but you don't wear anymore. Find a place like Dress for Success that helps women dress appropriately for job interviews and new jobs!
- Many people have been displaced from their homes over the last year. There are organizations like Furnishing Dignity who help furnish apartments for families coming off the street.
Even for me, I am always amazed every time I hear of Irma Dulce turning a chicken coop into a place to care for the poor. The little woman who saw possibility in everything and everyone.
Print out this free activity sheet. Have your child color the chicken coop as well as the hospital and then cut the shapes out. Place them one on top of the other (and if you have a brass fastener lying around you can connect them).
This is a good opportunity to talk about transformation - of people and our souls! Share with us on instagram if you do this with your kiddos!
They continue to do amazing things in a city that is very very poor. You can donate easily on their website here.
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