Our Affiliated Project: CARITAS-Novo Milenio Center in Lages – Santa Catarina, Brazil

facts about CARITAS-Novo Milenio Center:

  • Ages served: Children of all ages, as well as adults of the community, receive assistance at the center.
  • Facility description: The center comprises a tutoring area, a communal vegetable garden, and a small bakery to generate additional income.
  • Education: While school-aged children attend nearby public schools, the center provides children with much-needed school supplies, as well as tutoring to improve their academic performance.
  • Academic year: Typically begins in early February and ends in early December. Students enjoy summer break from mid-December through the end of January, and a short winter break in July.
  • Community Outreach: Parents and other community members receive skill training to find better jobs and generate supplemental income. The CARITAS center also addresses such issues as conflict resolution and protection from threats of abuse, drugs, or violence.
  • Medical Care: Some medical care is provided with the assistance of volunteer medical personnel.

Brazil is the fifth-largest country in the world – both geographically and in terms of population. It is truly massive, sharing borders with every other country in South America except for Ecuador and Chile. The Amazon rain forest – recognized for having the greatest biological diversity on the planet – sprawls over the country’s northern half, with rugged mountains to the south. Despite its wealth of natural resources and beauty, Brazil suffers from staggering poverty, rising inflation, unemployment, and lack of social development.  These issues are especially pronounced in cities like Lages, located in the south of Brazil. Lages’s population – about 150,000 – has been increasing as poor families from the countryside have moved to the city in search of employment and better lives. Their situation, however, has not improved; many families are forced to live in urban developments like Novo Milênio, which lack electricity, drinking water, and even sewage service. Job opportunities here are extremely limited, and area public schools are ill-equipped to provide a quality education to the ever-increasing number of students. Children here roam the streets, sad, neglected, and vulnerable to the threats of crime, drug abuse, and worse.

The plight of these children aroused the compassion of CARITAS, a non-profit organization run by the Catholic Church. As a result, the CARITAS Center in Novo Milênio was established to help these children and community members rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.