How to Change the World – Social Entrepreneurs: Cordeiro & Renascer Reforming Healthcare

I’ve been reading How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein and it’s really good. It highlights some really amazing stories of social entrepreneurs and how they are changing the world. These are the stories that need to be heard and shared more often to make a difference in the world. I’d love to share some of my favourites, so I’ll start with Cordeiro.

Cordeiro and Renascer – Assisting Children & Families, Reducing Recurrence in “At Risk” Children, Reforming Healthcare


An amazing woman, Vera Cordeiro in Lagoa, Brazil came up with the idea to provide assistance to children and families in need where their children were suffering from some medical issue. It started when a 1 year old boy arrived at her hospital whose hand required amputation. Cordeiro was called in to consult with the boy’s mother to prepare her for the amputation. The mother Pedrina told her that she had just lost her job as a maid, she didn’t know where she was going to live, how she was going to buy food, or how she would purchase a prosthesis for her son so he could live a normal life. Cordeiro sitting in her own living room with her 2 daughters that night couldn’t get Pedrina out of her head. She remembered how shaken she had been when 1 of her daughters contracted a serious infection and how she had all of this help, her mother, two maids, the best pediatricians. She thought how if these mothers and families had this help, it would be much easier to recover from illness and make sure they wouldn’t have a recurring need for medical assistance if they had access to basic knowledge and items such as blankets, water filters, fans, eyeglasses, wheelchairs, nebulizers, safety fences, and carriages.

That’s how the healthcare project at Renascer got started to stop the cycle of readmission among poor children. A group of personnel, including social workers, psychologists, nutritionists, volunteers gathered together to work with mothers to discuss treatment plans and one-on-one over 6 month periods. Lists of items that were needed were displayed on the bulletin board by the entrance. Each time mothers would visit the office to pick up food and medicine, they would discuss the progress of their treatment plans with Renascer’s volunteers. Cordeiro was brought on as a fellow of the organization Ashoka – Innovators for the Public after interviews with Bill Drayton, the CEO and Founder. Starting in 1996 – 1997, she started winning awards and was able to expand this idea to healthcare in Brazil to 3 more hospitals  and then nationally.


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