The flags throughout Brazil are flown at half-mast in mourning for the death of the founder of the “Pastoral da Criança”, Dr. Zilda Arns Neumann, who died last January 12, 2010, because of the terrible earthquake which struck Haiti and its capital, Porto Principe. Dr. Zilda was at Haiti attending a conference in order to motivate the volunteers of the Pastoral in Haiti.
The governors of Paraná, São Paulo, Santa Catarina, the mayor of Curitiba, the chairman of the Federal Chamber of Deputies, the President of Brazil, several other authorities and especially the people, formed huge queues to say farewell to Dr.Zilda, being concealed in the Palace of Araucaria in the Civic Center of Curitiba.
It is a loss to be mourned not only in Curitiba or Brazil, but throughout the world, for people like her are very rare to find, with such kindness and selflessness on behalf of other human beings, especially poor children.
Her work and the “Pastoral da Criança”, founded in 1983, was responsible for saving thousands of lives of children from 0 to 6 years old. More than 1.9 million children and pregnant women in nearly 5,000 municipalities are assisted by the Pastoral, through its more than 260,000 volunteers. The volunteers start monitoring the children since pregnancy up to 6 years, through simple actions such as controlling weight and height, information about nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention, use of ORS and other information that have had an effect so crucial in reducing infant mortality among the children examined, that the attention of the world was caught and the program was implemented in over 20 countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Whereas the universe of its performance, infant mortality was reduced to less than half in comparison to the national average, which is more than surprising because children assisted by the Pastoral are from the poorest parts of the nation.
In addition to the nomination of Dr. Zilda Arns by the Brazilian government for the Nobel of Peace Prize in 2006, Dr. Zilda Arns received several national and international awards.
It is therefore a person to be remembered, admired and above all, to be followed. Certainly her more than 260 thousand volunteers will follow in their mission to save children's lives, offering, at no charge, information, quality of life, healing and love.