Brazil is no stranger to non-monetary and alternative means of mutual assistance, but the country has shown there's room for even more social initiatives with the arrival, a few years back, of time banks, and now of a grassroots campaign-turned-platform Mais Amor Entre Nós.
The project, which means More Love Between Us, started in March 2016 as a Facebook hashtag by Bahia-born journalist Sueide Kintê and focuses on the gift economy concept with an important difference — it's exclusively for women.
Launched in Brazil's center of Afro-Brazilian culture, the city of Salvador, the idea grew into a community of black Brazilian women helping each other through one-hour donations of their time. Members offer varied services such as assistance with video editing, sewing, house cleaning, vegetarian cooking, and to discuss topics like self-esteem, politics, race and gender.
It not only encompasses any and all women, but those across Brazil and now several other countries.
As mentioned in a May 2016 article in the Brazilian magazine TPM, her reasoning behind the decision is straightforward (even if the underlying cause is complex):
É só para as mulheres porque somos um sujeito mercantilizado. Se existe um grupo de pessoas dentro da sociedade brasileira que é mais vulnerável, é o de mulheres, principalmente as negras.
It's just for women because we are a commercialized people. If there is a group of people within Brazilian society who are the most vulnerable, it's women, especially black women.
The Facebook post below, where the hashtag was introduced, was a simple message that Sueide posted to her personal account; it was enough to start an entire movement:
Se vc é mulher e precisa de ajuda em alguma das coisas listadas abaixo eu faço de GRAÇA pra vc menina! Estou disponível uma hora por dia. Me procure no zap ou inbox.
Posso ficar de babá do seu filho para vc fazer algo q precise, te ensinar a nadar, a andar de bicicleta, projetar seu site pessoal, fazer um release seu ou do seu trabalho, trançar seu cabelo, fazer seu dreadlock com agulha de croché, meditar com você, praticar hit dance contigo, cozinhar massas com molhos inusitados e deliciosos, escrever projetos culturais para captação de recursos, ajuda-la a tirar uma ideia do papel(sou boa nisso), ou, simplesmente só te ouvir.
Me pede inbox q te passo meu zap
If you are a woman and need help with some of the things listed below, I'll do it for you for free, girl! I am available for an hour per day. Search for me on WhatsApp or [send a message to my] inbox.
I can take care of your child so that you can do something you need to do, I can teach you to swim, to ride a bicycle, to design your personal website, to do a press release for yourself or your job, braid your hair, do your dreadlocks with a crochet needle, meditate with you, practice your dance hit with you, cook spaghetti with delicious and unexpected sauces, write grants for your cultural projects, help you get an idea on paper (I'm good at this), or simply just listen to you.
Ask me [through my] inbox and I'll send you my WhatsApp
As the post suggests, the type of gifts that are exchanged is totally up to the community, which is currently more active on Facebook than on the project's official website. Some of the less day-to-day offerings include personal care for women with the Zika virus and even advice on how to publicly assume one's own sexuality. In addition, both the site and the Facebook community have an online store component, where members are welcome to declutter their closets and offer any unwanted items for free to other members.
Sueide and her team are currently working on turning the site into a mobile app to increase interaction between members and improve the ease of participating in the network itself — 22,500 people have joined the official Facebook page in a matter of just five months. With a solid idea that continues to gain traction (even abroad), an app in progress and an interested public, it looks like Sueide, much like anyone who has a good idea and implements it, might find herself too busy to take part in her own creation. Luckily for her, though, she has over 20,000 women ready and willing to back her up.