Special 50 years - Support for Brazilian Families

After spending nearly 20 years dedicated exclusively to the members of Construtora Norberto Odebrecht and their dependents, starting in the 1980s, the institution began focusing on issues that affected Brazilian families

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For the Emílio Odebrecht Foundation, promoting the quality of life of the country’s poor communities depended on integrated actions focused not only on health and education, but also on work. The FEO Award was created in 1982 as incentive for the elaboration of studies that could offer a concrete contribution to resolving problems that affected workers. Held together with Brazil’s National Research Council – CNPq and with the support of the publications A Tarde, O Estado de S. Paulo and Jornal do Brasil, the first theme of the FEO Award was “Productivity of the Brazilian Worker.” 

During the following years, health, education and Brazilian youth were the topics covered by the FEO Award. Some winning projects were published, including “Health and Productivity” (1983) and “The Northeast: Development of Rural Men and Women” (1986). Considered a victorious leap forward for the working class and Brazilian citizens alike, the FEO Award was recognized by leaders and scholars. “The projects constitute proof that the nation is alive and well, and ready to offer the government proposals for measures that the country’s situation demands,” said Jorge Calmon, then Director and Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper A Tarde, during one of the award ceremonies.

To the left, posters of FEO award 1983 and 1985

The foundation also supported the annual gifting of research scholarships, sponsored projects and held meetings and debates, all supported by the government, companies and representatives of the workers. In 1986, the institution prioritized health and education programs and began to focus on two different spheres: the rural zone, through joint actions with the Bahia Department of Education and Culture, and the peripheries of the urban centers, by identifying and developing popular health agents in the communities, primarily Salvador. “It is not enough to perceive and try to reduce the individual’s shortcomings at work, simply caring for the symptoms,” explained founder Norberto Odebrecht at the time. “It is necessary to develop a more in-depth analysis of those growing deficiencies, researching their causes to eliminate them and create favorable conditions for people’s development,” he said.


During the 1980s, Josaphat Marinho, one of the directors of Odebrecht S.A. and an advocate of education as a way of adding value to work, become Vice Chair of the foundation’s Board of Trustees. “Experience has shown that we are on the right track, that the efficiency of these programs is associated with coordinating the work factor with health and education,” said Marinho, during one of the debates promoted by the institution. “When an organization offers services to the communities without any self-interest involved, this effort becomes useful for overcoming prejudices that are normally a part of economic activities,” he said.





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