Social Work

When, in 1951, Juscelino Kubitschek assumed his position in the government of Minas Gerais, D. Sarah began her important mission: to develop the most wide-ranging and intense social assistance program for underprivileged classes. Thousands of people were provided with schools, doctors, medicine, food and clothing. Once Juscelino came to the Presidency in 1956, D. Sarah saw the opportunity to significantly expand her work; she united her friends and created the Association of Social Pioneers. Her working hours turned longer and nights shorter. D. Sarah convened female ambassadors to participate in her program, companies that could supply resources and a whole host of people from different areas dedicated to the program nationwide. From Germany and the US they imported mobile medical units dedicated to dental assistance, a program known as “Health on Wheels”. The standard of teaching of the Social Pioneers meant that their schools were intensely sought after by parents.


In 1959, D. Sarah and her colleagues launched on the muddy waters of the Amazon River in the far north, a hospital boat imported from Germany, to meet the local population, performing operations, childbirth, dental care. In honor of her mother, who died because of cancer, D. Sarah was engaged in fighting the disease, creating in Rio de Janeiro in 1957, the Research Center Luiza Gomes de Lemos dedicated to work on preventive medicine, serving women of different ages, and also seeking to offer psychological help to patients.

In Belo Horizonte, the birthplace of the Social Pioneers, D. Sarah established an excellent hospital, designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, and very well equipped with modern operating rooms, and departments for radiology, oncology and pediatrics, among others, as well as day care facilities, a library, restaurant and auditorium. In Brasilia, as well as erecting their own building, the Social Pioneers opened along with the city on April 21, 1960, the Rehabilitation Center for the care of disabled people, equipped with what was most modern in the area. Today the Center has become a National Network of Hospitals coordinated by its headquarters in Brasilia. The Network is considered a model of public health assistance, serving rich and poor, as a right of citizenship. With her elegance and fragile appearance, D. Sarah toured Brazil from north to south, bringing together people, opening doors and possibilities, and always carrying a friendly smile and a stubborn impatience.