|Fiat and Chrysler CEO visits AVSI’s stand at the Meeting of Rimini|
|Thursday, 01 September 2011 21:15|
On August 24, 2011, AVSI’s booth at the week-long Meeting of Rimini in Italy was home to a remarkable meeting between Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat S.p.A. and Chrysler Group, AVSI Foundation directors and staff and the Brazilian women of CoopeArvore, part of the Arvore da Vida (“Tree of Life”) project.
Marchionne had come to meet the Brazilian artisans and witness their work in action creating bags and other products out of materials recycled from the Fiat factory. His visit followed that of John Elkann, President of Fiat, the day before, after which one of the Brazilians commented, “The president of Fiat surprised us with his moving attentiveness and interest in us; he spoke to us in Portuguese and complimented us. We are very happy, and we will take his compliments and his greetings back to all of our friends in Brazil.”
Arvore da Vida is a model Corporate Social Responsibility project begun in 2004 in Betim, Belo Horizonte, Brazil through the collaboration of Fiat, AVSI, and the local Brazilian NGO CDM. It is part of a response to the situation of the Jardim Terezopoliz neighborhood in the mid ‘70s, when the occurrence of violence was very high and the number of qualified employees was very low. In this context, AVSI and its partners found their strength in their approach of building on the aspirations and confidence in one’s own creativity found in each individual brought into the training and employment programs. It was necessary to communicate that life has a meaning and a value that is much greater than the conflict among gangs, unrest and violence which seemed to define the area, and to show how the talents of each person can be put to use for the common good.
In the years 2005 to 2011, Arvore da Vida has reached 13,550 members of the neighborhood entering at different levels of education, including literacy courses, professional formation, support to families, and other activities. The project has involved 51 businesses including automotive supply chains, distributors, and car dealers; and has facilitated insertion into the work force of 1,300 young people, including 800 young adults living in favelas who now work for Fiat production facilities (an increase from the 50 working there previously).