NEXT GENERATION: Morhan’s Intergenerational Department encourages youth to represent themselves

Marcos Vinicius Costa Santos
Coordinator, Intergenerational Department
National Morhan

Morhan is a non-profit organization and social movement in Brazil that raises awareness of Hansen’s disease as a curable disease and advocates for public policies that uphold human rights and support effective treatment.

The participation of young people in society is of paramount importance. Their participation is a tool for collective and democratic transformation, and they are the ones who must represent themselves when policies are being made. In Morhan’s Intergenerational Department (DI-Morhan), we work with the purpose of encouraging young people to participate in representative entities that guarantee social participation. We empower them by providing them with knowledge and encouraging them to seek out their rights and duties.

I am from a region where reliable information and quality care were scarce. I developed a moderate discomfort and a feeling of dissatisfaction, and with that I had the thought of looking for improvements in the health system offered to people who were undergoing treatment for Hansen’s disease in the municipality. I started to take several courses and improve my knowledge about the disease, how to treat it, and how to identify it. However, I was only looking for knowledge in my area of ​​specialization (health sciences).

Over time, I saw that the problem went beyond just treating the individual and that we should encourage health promotion and education activities. At that point, I encountered Morhan, an organization that is an invaluable resource in terms of quality information on Hansen’s disease. I had my first contact with the national coordinator of Morhan, Artur Custódio, in a congress that I joined in Foz do Iguaçu, a city in the state of Paraná, and from there we started the discussion for the implementation of a Morhan nucleus in the city where I currently live. After months of structuring, we did it.

After that, we founded another nucleus in Barra do Garças, a city in the state of Mato Grosso. This is where I currently coordinate. We developed several activities for education, promotion, and prevention in health for the community, and we have taken countless actions and obtained many fruits with the community. 

Two Morhan representatives met with Vice President Councilman Zé Gota of the Barra do Garças City Council to discuss effective public policies for tackling Hansen’s disease (August 2021).

DI-Morhan was created at the time of the restructuring of Morhan National’s statute. As I was one of the youngest coordinators of a nucleus, I was selected together with Tatielle Naiara, my vice coordinator, to represent youth and take on responsibility for the department. It’s now in full swing: producing information, promoting exchange of knowledge, and formulating proposals to better serve young people affected by Hansen’s disease. As John F. Kennedy said, “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

Twitter post showing coordinators of Morhan’s Intergenerational Department, Marcos Vinicius Costa Santos and Tatielle Naiara, involved in an event live-streamed on Morhan’s YouTube channel (April 19, 2022).

We are many. We have desires. We have voices, rights, and we must fight so that our right to voice and social participation is not impeded, but prevails!