“DEUS É BOM PRA MIM” in English means “God is good to me.” This line of verse is a refrain from a children’s bible song. Everyone sang this beautiful melody at Casa Betesda before lunch each day. They sang this song to motivate their guests or themselves. We joined them in the chorus to celebrate their optimism and let them know even people from thousands mile away also care for them. This convinced us that volunteering for the CIIP was one of the best decisions we have made in our lives!

Thanks to the first Celanese International Impact Program (CIIP), our team had a chance to work for Casa Betesda, which means the House of Mercy. This NGO is dedicated to house female patients and children undergoing treatment at the Clínicas de Uberlândia Hospital (the largest public hospital in the city), as well as their families. For those poor people that are unable to afford a stay in Uberlandia while being treated, the house provides bed, food, laundry and a rest place for free. Casa Betesda hosts them for short- and- long-term periods of time, enabling families to stay close to their loved ones who are undergoing treatment for various illnesses and conditions.  Its doors are open to everyone regardless of race, origin, age, religion and culture.

Our team included Lizz Poole (Global process improvement leader from the Enoree site), Rick Gregory (EHS from the Wilmington site) and me. Before this program, our paths never crossed, but we complemented each other and worked together perfectly to help the NGO

Casa Betesda had hoped we could help them to improve their registration, inventory and donation management and access control. In the first week, we focused on understanding their current process, problems and challenges. Due to the language difference, this part of work turned out to be one of the most difficult because every question needed to be translated into Portuguese and each answer also needed to be translated back into English. Sometimes it was very confusing, so we needed to be very patient and good listeners. With the great support of our interpreters, we were able to successfully develop an “as-is” process map to reflect their current process, and then we discussed and defined their gaps we could improve or fill in. Thereafter, a “to-be” map was generated by the team to tell Casa Betesda what we were going to do for them in the rest of the three weeks so as to obtain their agreement. Based on the agreed “to-be” process map, each of us was responsible to complete different tasks. We worked very hard as a team and hoped to leave Casa Betesda in a much better place than when we first arrived.

Casa Betesda is really a place full of touching stories and wonderful people!

In the last week we were in Brazil and working with our NGO, a premature baby was released from the hospital and the mother brought the baby back to Casa Betesda to show him off and collect her belongings. Everyone at the house was joyful for the new family and some tears were shed.

Neide Marcri Posso, from a nearby city called Monte Carmelo, came to Uberlandia to be treated for breast cancer. She checked in at the house almost the same day we arrived there. She likes Casa Betesda very much for many reasons – friendship, food, kindness of staff —   and she told me she feels even better than being at home because people care for each other like a big, warm family!

Lidia Guimaraes Goncalves, the secretary of the house, has been working in Casa Betesda for 15 years. Her major is social service so she is very happy working in a house like Casa Betesda to help and care for those people in need. She said God gives her so many things and blesses her so much. This gives her energy and reasons to help and guide people to do the right thing. Casa Betesda has changed her life; people mean more to her than before, and she is thankful for her health and family.

Layla Palis is one of our three translators. They are all college student volunteers. She extended her graduate program in order to work for this program so she was able to dedicate her time to this volunteer experience. She wants to help people and do some internship in such an organization like Casa Betesda. She told me that the CIIP is truly a wonderful program and it is so great that she could work with a multi-cultural team with different skill sets. She leaned a lot from this program and knows many people who want to do good things and volunteer for charitable organizations.

I appreciate this initiative of Celanese to improve the world and I feel privileged to be chosen for CIIP and working with my wonderful team. I learned and grew while I helped people in Brazil and hope the tiny change I have made in Casa Betesda can help those people who deserve to have a better life. CIIP is truly a voyage of heart!

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of 10 blog posts by team members of the first Celanese International Impact Program to Uberlandia, Brazil.