Fellow Since 1998
This profile was prepared when Eduardo Cômodo Valarelli was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
In the face of societal prejudice and often inhumane treatment of patients suffering from AIDS and other serious diseases, Eduardo Valarelli uses fine arts to foster understanding between patients and health care providers, and to improve the quality of treatment. Eduardo engages patients in self-expression through art, building their self-esteem and providing an outlet for the stress and immobility that often accompany long-term hospitalization. Furthermore, by exhibiting the patients's artwork, Eduardo changes the way both hospital staff and the society as a whole perceive them: as productive individuals capable of thought and expression rather than as subhuman "untouchables." Instead of merely providing relief from the dehumanizing experience of a prolonged hospital stay, Eduardo's Carmim Project actively seeks to change internal hospital relations in order to improve patients' quality of life. Art becomes a tool for establishing new forms of dialogue among the patients themselves and between the patients and health professionals. By mobilizing hospitals, universities, doctors, and other health care professionals to recognize the importance of art therapy as a vehicle for expression and healing, Eduardo is challenging the public health care system's static treatment methods. Eduardo believes that as patients express themselves and exhibit their work, they assert their rights as human beings. In helping them to do this, he improves hospital treatment in Brazil and combats serious discrimination against patients with AIDS and other diseases, while raising social awareness about health issues and patient rights in general.