Our Affiliated Project: Irmandade Nossa Senhora Das Graças in Lages, Brazil

facts about Irmandade Nossa Senhora Das Graças:

  • Ages served: 3 – 18 years of age
  • Facility description: A large community building located in a poor residential district in Lages.
  • Education: Children enrolled here attend local public schools, but many of the children come to the center after school each day, where they are able to do their homework, receive tutoring from the nuns as well as training in computer literacy, dance, and basic hygiene.
  • 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.
  • Nutrition: Nutritious meals are provided to the children daily.
  • Chores: The children and their families are actively involved in maintaining the Nossa Senhora Das Graças facility, assisting the nuns with cooking, cleaning, and other chores.
  • Medical attention: Children’s health is closely monitored, and medical care is provided at the center or local clinics whenever the need arises.

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 the small city of Lages in southern 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, and drug abuse. The plight of these children aroused the compassion of a charitable civic organization called Irmandade Nossa Senhora Das Graças (Our Lady of the Graces). As a result, the Irmandade Nossa Senhora Das Graças daycare center opened in Lages to provide assistance, support, and hope to the needy children in this region of Brazil.