SEATTLE — In Brazil, the richest 10 percent of the population receives more than 40 percent of the country’s income, while the poorest 10 percent of people only have access to around 1 percent. Despite this wealth inequality, public education is nearly completely universal for children between the ages of four and 17. While this is a huge achievement in socioeconomic equality, paradoxically, children aged 4 and under often get cut off from taking advantage of the nation’s free public daycare facilities.
BBC Online estimates that only one-third of infants and toddlers are able to be cared for in daycares in Brazil and nurseries due to long waiting lists and excessively lengthy parent commutes. Private daycares are available, but are costly; consequently, Brazilian private daycares are disproportionally attended by children of wealthy families. BBC Online confirms that 33.9 percent of poorer children are affected by the shortage of available daycares, in comparison to 6.9 percent of wealthy children. This lack of early childcare for families of modest means is problematic for two primary reasons: first, it prevents parents who may need a dual-income to work. Secondly, it infringes on the ability of some children to successfully prepare to attend public grade school.
The Rise of “Community Mothers”
Recently, groups of women known as “community mothers” have begun running daycares out of their homes to try and help pick up the slack. The legalities and certified teachers required to first establish an official childcare center can get expensive and perhaps unrealistic for certain rural areas—which is where they “community mothers” step in. They care for children unable to participate in the deficient early education system already in place and provide an alternative for parents whose work hours don’t coincide with public daycare hours of operation. Since the groups are unregulated and technically “not recognized” by the state, they do not receive any form of state assistance. This lack of funding and proper training proves challenging to their growing organizations.
How Elisa Mansur and MOPI Are Helping
Elisa Mansur, a 27-year-old Brazilian student pursuing a masters degree at MIT for business and public administration, noticed the hardships threatening the community mothers and resolved to help. In response to the need she saw in her country’s early education system, Mansur created a start-up with the goal of raising donations to provide funding and training for community mothers throughout Brazil.
On its website, the organization, named MOPI (Movement for Children), states it strives to aid “community mothers” by creating “sustainable programs that empower community mothers to help children in their communities reach their full potential.” Mansur won the 2018 World Bank Youth Summit project competition for the start-up; a start-up which is it not only helping her nation provide proper childcare, but is also creating a new job market for those who may have previously been struggling to turn a profit. MOPI is a true inspiration and proves that one person can truly change their world.
Other Ways Mansur is Helping Brazil
In addition to MOPI, Mansur co-founded doebem — an online platform that connects potential donors with selective Brazilian organizations vigorously researched for their effectiveness in addressing nationwide-needs. With more innovation like Mansur’s and increased support for programs like MOPI and doebem, the wage gap between the rich and the poor in Brazil will hopefully, at last, begin to narrow.
– Haley Hiday