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Time do Bem reveals the challenges in Amazonas

July 2023

The February edition of G5 Talks discussed the needs, challenges and impacts of social responsibility actions, particularly in the current scenario with the covid-19 health crisis in Brazil. G5 Talks is a project through which business leaders exchange experiences and learnings with the team at G5 Partners. To discuss this topic, André Benchimol, Founding Parter, and Levindo Santos, Senior Partner, invited Marx Gabriel, the CEO of MB Consultoria, and Antonio José Alecrim, the Operational Director of Grupo VDA, responsible for Time do Bem — a group comprised of people from civil society, with no political ties, formed to help with the public health crisis in Amazonas in January of this year. Marx Gabriel explained that the idea of forming the group came after a dream his wife had. “I went for a walk with her on Saturday, January 8th, and she said that in her dream, a spiritual presence asked to take food to the hospitals. Later, Antonio José called me asking my opinion about taking snacks to hospitals. I thought: ‘two messages like this on the same day, I need to hear them’. Later that day, I lost a friend due to the lack of a medical ICU bed”. So, Marx Gabriel and Antonio José bought 600 snacks and asked other people to help expand the project. “We sent a message to friends by WhatsApp and, in just over 1 hour, each of us had received more than 60 PIX payments”. Marx Gabriel started the Team do Bem initiative with the donation of snacks and, in the following days, the group grew in an organized way. “Everyone came to work at my office”, he said. 

It is worth highlighting that the health scenario in Amazonas is so dramatic that, in 2020, the State had only 7 ICU beds for every 100,000 inhabitants, ranking as the fourth lowest among all states in Brazil and the Federal District. Last year, we had 20 respirators for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to official data. Team do Bem donated much more than food. The group also delivered equipment to several hospitals, over 31,000 snack kits, 2,000 basic food baskets, more than 1 ton of hospital supplies for the State’s capital and other cities, 2 tons of personal protective equipment material, 70 BiPAP machines in the capital city alone and 113 in other cities. The group reached 62 municipalities. 

Logistics challenge 

Marx Gabriel and Antonio José explained that one of the biggest challenges was overcoming the complex logistics of purchasing and transporting materials from São Paulo to Manaus as quickly as possible. Antonio José’s wife, for example, stayed in SP to help them. The goal was to take materials purchased in São Paulo to Manaus on a daily basis. We always had someone traveling from one city to another carrying a huge amount of cargo, from 300 kg to 600 kg. “We learned that the concept of speed changes, because if an equipment arrives late, a person can die. Sometimes in a matter of minutes. Several people died in Manaus due to lack of oxygen, many, many people died. That was murder”, stated Marx Gabriel. 

Trust, a fundamental element 

During this process, it was essential to gain trust from donors. “Many people trusted us because we delivered the materials directly to hospitals. Trust was fundamental. We wouldn’t have speed if it weren’t for trust. Engaging in matters such as life and death touched many people, large groups”, explained Antonio José. After spending nearly one month in the project, Marx Gabriel commented what he learned. “The first lesson is that we can do a lot with little. Secondly, people need to participate. Young people need to get more involved, they need to understand politics, understand what a public budget is, increase their level of skills and studies. I was very disappointed with business societies and associations, as they are absolutely passive”, he stated. According to him, “all social classes need to do a self-analysis to see what they got right in this entire process, what went wrong and what should have been done, but wasn’t”, said Marx Gabriel, adding that Brazil needs “an active, not a passive society”. 

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