Dr. Vera Cordeiro launches book describing her 30 years at the head of the Dara Institute

30 years ago, when she held a raffle to raise money to pay for the treatment of patients at the Hospital da Lagoa in Rio de Janeiro, physician Vera Cordeiro began a journey that would culminate in the creation of one of the most respected NGOs in the world. Her vision went far beyond medicine. She examined how a patient’s family history, as well as living conditions, income, education, health and sense of citizenship were part and parcel of what needed to be addressed to cure an illness. For Dr. Cordeiro, treatment wasn’t complete until all the challenges facing a patient and the patient’s family were examined.


This vision for the future and Dr. Cordeiro’s perspective on the healing power of public policies are what await readers in the 200-page book entitled “Covering the World – the Dara Institute: Transforming Hearts and Minds”, released by the publisher Batel. The book walks us through the three-decade history of the Dara Institute (formerly called Saúde Criança Renascer), a non-profit organization founded in 1991 (and which celebrates its 30th year this October) by Dr. Vera Cordeiro and a group of professionals from Rio de Janeiro’s Hospital da Lagoa. The author shares how the institute’s initiatives have brought about psychological, behavioral, economic and social transformations in the lives of the thousands of families it has served. The book also describes the behind-the-scenes battles fought by Dr. Cordeiro from the first years of the organization’s operation at its headquarters in the stables of Rio’s Lage Park up until today.


The result of an extraordinary collaborative effort, Covering the World was written and revised by Dr. Cordeiro with the help of journalist Roberta Pennafort. Over four years, Ms. Pennafort recorded conversations, conducted research, collected testimonials and heard stories, and was able to synthesize, in a relatively short space, the Dr. Cordeiro’s unrivalled passion and energy as she outlines Dara’s unique approach. All proceeds from the sale of the book will be reinvested into the Dara Institute. 


“We believe in a multidisciplinary approach to combating poverty, and we work to create a world in which human rights and social inclusion are a reality. Our values are focused on social responsibility, integrity, solidarity, transparency and social justice,” Dr. Cordeiro explains.


The book’s narrative interweaves stories from the physician’s personal life, the involvement of her family, and the sacrifices she made during her exhaustive quest for resources and partnerships, her extensive travel, and all the time that she devoted to make the institute’s work possible. It also discusses how Dara’s interventions have directly influenced the lives of patients and physicians over the years, bringing together a remarkable collection of stories that describe how so many Brazilians have had their lives transformed.


“It’s not about charitable giving, or satisfying the immediate needs of those who have little or almost nothing. What we are all searching for, each in our own way, are new solutions to old social problems: poverty, disease, hunger, lack of access to education, shoddy housing. We are looking for systemic change,” the author reflects.


It’s impossible not to be moved by this engaging narrative that blends Dr. Cordeiro’s personal stories with those of patients and families whose lives have improved enormously thanks to the work of Dara’s team of doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and even lawyers and architects. In one chapter, a mother, following a consultation, asks Dr. Cordeiro how she will feed her child without a job. Another mother asks if Dr. Cordeiro has any job openings. The most moving of these is the mother who asks if Dr. Cordeiro has a blanket so she can cover up her son so he doesn’t get even sicker. How can pneumonia be cured if a child lives in a damp house infested with mold? Such questions are the driving force behind the Dara Institute.


“I believe that since poverty is multidimensional, a multidisciplinary methodology is required which has social inclusion at its core. One day, this work, together with that of other institutions, will evolve into a civil society movement that will transform this country. I have no doubt about that,” Dr. Cordeiro affirms.


Nationally and internationally recognized for its work, the Dara Institute, which is supported by donations from companies and individuals, is ranked among the most effective NGOs in the world, having been rated the top NGO in Latin America for 9 years. Its Family Action Plan employs 150 indicators measuring health, education, citizenship (access to benefits), housing and income. The program carefully maps out tailor-made interventions for families, offering an effective cure, not only for patients, but for an entire disheartened nation. 


Dr. Cordeiro explains that the book’s the main objective is to demonstrate how working collectively can help to redress the deep social inequalities in Brazil – or as the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 


“I believe that change in our culture is possible and vitally necessary so that we can foster a fairer society with less social inequality. Political and social transformation does not occur through voting alone. It happens through the effective engagement of everyone, on a daily basis, doing small acts that, over time, have an enormous impact on the lives of people not only in marginalized communities, but in all social strata. In a country with a frayed social fabric, happiness cannot be achieved by individuals acting independently. Social stagnation and a widespread lack of hope can only be defeated through a civil society uprising that impacts all of our lives. The moment has arrived; Brazil is a hotbed of extraordinary work. Society-wide systemic change is possible! The time has come for this transformation to occur, enabling the well-being and collective happiness that we all dream of”, reflects Dr. Cordeiro, who is currently Chair of the executive board that manages the team of professionals and volunteers who make up the Dara Institute.


The digital version of the book “Covering the World – the Dara Institute: Transforming Hearts and Minds”, by the publisher Batel, will be available for pre-sale from XX on Dara’s website (www.dara.org.br/en). The official launch will be held on Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m. via livestream on Livraria da Travessa’s YouTube channel. It will include a discussion mediated by journalist Cora Rónai, as well as featuring testimonials by actress Fernanda Torres, writer Celso Grecco, and social entrepreneur Wellington Nogueira. The entire event will be open to the public with free access.



For information about the launch of the book “Covering the World – The Dara Institute: Transforming Hearts and Minds”, please contact our Press Office.


W3 Communication – T: (21) 2286-4691

Lígia Viegas: lviegas@dablio3.com / WhatsApp: (21) 99911-4964

Marcos Pinheiro: marcos@dablio3.com / WhatsApp: (21) 99600-0690


Dara Institute Communications:

Victor de Oliveira: victor@dara.org.br / (21) 97301-2512