Creator of project that houses pregnant, at-risk teens honored with award in capital city

Mãe Neide receives the Ruth Cardoso Medal in a ceremony in Brasília
Mãe Neide receives the Ruth Cardoso Medal in a ceremony in Brasília

Mãe Neide is the Creator of the project Casa das Janaínas, which houses pregnant teens in vulnerable social situations and family conflict

On May 17th in the capital city of Brasília, Mãe Neide Oyá D’Oxum, also known as Maria Neide Martins, a mãe de santo (1) in the northeastern state of Alagoas, received the Ruth Cardoso (2) Medal. The award aims to honor women and organizations who contribute to the creation or implementation of actions and social, economic, political and cultural programs in defense of women’s rights, anti-discrimination and gender inequalities. Born in the city of Arapiraca in Alagoas, she is the creator and coordinator of projects focused on the social rescue of people in vulnerable situations through religiosity and preservation of black culture and art. Besides Mãe Neide, 22 other women were also honored.

Mãe Neide is a pioneer in the dissemination of rituals of African origin
Mãe Neide is a pioneer in the dissemination of rituals of African origin

“I am thrilled with the recognition of our work, (it’s been) many years of dedication to the community,” she said. According Mãe Neide, in the last 10 years, many partnerships have made her work possible, among them, she emphasizes the Fundação Cultural Palmares (Palmares Cultural Foundation) (3). She says that the support of the FCP for the Project Inaê made possible the development of actions in the quilombos (4) of the region of União dos Palmares, Alagoas, where about 200 people participated in activities such as drama classes, percussion, dance and capoeira (5), hairdressing courses, culinary of the orixás (6), jewelry courses, workshops and so on.

Fundação Cultural Palmares

Charitable mother – A tribute to Mãe Neide came by the development of an action within the Project Inaê called Casa das Janaínas that welcomes young mothers who use drugs, along with their children. Currently, the mãe de santo seeks support to expand the house and consequently the number of women and children served. “I received the Ruth Cardoso Medal for the Projeto Casa de Janaína, it is a pioneering and different because it does not separate mothers from their children,” she said.

Casa - Projeto

Another arm of the Projeto Inaê is the Curumim, a nursery designed to needy mothers from the Campestre Village neighborhood in Maceió, Alagoas. The initiative welcomes children full time, where they learn to read, receive meals and perform socio-cultural activities.

Mãe Neide
Mãe Neide

In 2010, in celebration of 22 years of the Fundação Cultural Palmares, Mãe Neide received the Troféu Palmares (Palmares Trophy) for her work in spiritual refuge and solidarity, including the quilombolas of União dos Palmares.

Source: Palmares


1. A mãe-de-santo is a priestess of Umbanda, Candomblé and Quimbanda, the Afro-Brazilian religions. In Portuguese those words translate as “mother of the saint”, which is a improper translation from the Yoruba language word iyalorishá, a title given to priest women in African religions. Iyá means mother, and the contraction l’Orishá means “of Orishá”. As a product of the syncretism, the word orishá (elevated or ancestral spirit) was improperly translated into Portuguese as saint. The priestesses mães-de-santo are more venerated in Afro-Brazilian religions than the male priests, the pais-de-santo. In the Afro-Brazilian religions the priests are the owners of the tradition, knowledge and culture and the ones responsible to pass it on to the new generations because there are no sacred written books. Source: Wiki

2. Ruth Cardoso (September 19, 1930 – June 24, 2008) was a Brazilian anthropologist and a former member of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at the University of Sao Paulo (FFLCH-USP). She was the wife of 34th President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and First Lady of her country between January 1, 1995 to January 1, 2003. She held a Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Sao Paulo. With her husband, the sociologist and former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, she founded and later directed the research institute Cebrap (Centro Brasileiro de Análise e Planejamento – Brazilian Center of Analysis and Planning), which continues to be a leading site of social science research in Brazil.

3. The Fundação Cultural Palmares  (Palmares Cultural Foundation) is a Brazilian public entity linked to the Ministry of Culture, established by Federal Law No. 7,668, of August 22, 1988. The organization had its Statute approved by Decree No. 418 of January 10, 1992, and its mission is the constitutional precepts of reinforcements of citizenship, identity, action and to the memory of ethnic segments of forming groups of Brazilian society as well as promoting the right of access to culture and to essential state action in the preservation of Afro-Brazilian manifestations. Article 1 of the Law which instituted it, reads: “(…) to promote the preservation of the cultural, social and economic impacts of the black influence in the formation of Brazilian society.”

4. A quilombo from the Kimbundu word kilombo) is a Brazilian hinterland settlement founded by people of African origin including the quilombolas, or Maroons. Most of the inhabitants of quilombos(called quilombolas) were escaped slaves and, in some cases, later these escaped African slaves would help provide shelter and homes to other minorities of marginalized Portuguese, Brazilian aboriginals, Jews and Arabs, and/or other non-black, non-slave Brazilians who experienced oppression during colonization. However, the documentation on runaway slave communities typically uses the term mocambo to describe the settlements. “Mocambo” is an Ambundu word that means “hideout”, and is typically much smaller than a quilomboQuilombo was not used until the 1670s and then primarily in more southerly parts of Brazil.

A similar settlement exists in other Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, and is called a palenque. Its inhabitants are palenqueros who speak various Spanish-African-based creole languages. Quilombos are identified as one of three basic forms of active resistance by slaves. The other two are attempts to seize power and armed insurrections for amelioration. Typically, quilombos are a “pre-19th century phenomenon”. The prevalence of the last two increased in the first half of 19th century Brazil, which was undergoing both political transition and increased slave trade at the time. Source: Wiki

5. Capoeira is a Brazilian game that combines elements of martial arts, dance, and music. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century. It is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for leg sweeps. The word capoeira probably comes from the Tupi language, referring to the areas of low vegetation in the Brazilian interior. Source: Wiki

6. An orixá (also spelled orisha or orisa) is a spirit or deity that reflects one of the manifestations of God in the Yoruba spiritual or religious system. This religion has found its way throughout the world and is now expressed in practices as varied as Candomblé, Lucumí/Santería, Shango in Trinidad (Trinidad Orisha), Anago and Oyotunji, as well as in some aspects of Umbanda, Winti, Obeah, Vodun and a host of others. These varieties, or spiritual lineages as they are called, are practiced throughout areas of Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Togo, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela among others. As interest in African indigenous religions (spiritual systems) grows, Orisha communities and lineages can be found in parts of Europe and Asia as well. While estimates may vary, some scholars believe that there could be more than 100 million adherents of this spiritual tradition worldwide. Source: Wiki

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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