Tag Archives: brazil

Staying Safe on the Field

Many poor families living in the city of Lages in south Brazil have migrated there from the countryside in search of employment to better their lives. Due to limited job opportunities among the ever-growing population there, however, families instead find themselves continuing to live in poverty, and having to move into impoverished urban developments such as Novo Milênio, which lacks electricity, drinking water, and even sewage service. Within this slum community, public schools are ill-equipped to provide a quality education to an increasing number of students.

Along with the soccer program, a volunteer psychologist at the center has been helping the community for several years now. He provides individual and group therapy, which are essential to recovery for children and families after experiencing violence and abuse.

Children roam the streets – sad, neglected, and vulnerable to the threats of crime. Thankfully, the CARITAS-Novo Milênio Center, a nonprofit organization run by the Catholic Church of Brazil, was established to help support these children and their families so that they may break the cycle of poverty in which they live. Formed in Germany in 1897, CARITAS works around the world to help alleviate the suffering of the poor, while also giving them the tools they need to transform their own lives.

Sports helping kids

While visiting our affiliated projects in Brazil, our International Projects Specialist, Andreia Beraldo, arrived at CARITAS-Novo Milênio during their annual Pinhao Festival, which is a national celebration. During these festivities, the center sells wines and foods made of pinhao, a pine nut harvested in the southern region of the country. The center holds the largest festival of this type in the country, and has gained national attention as a result, bringing in famous artists and visitors from all over the country every year. The administrators there prepare for the festival all year long. It lasts ten days total, is the main source of funding for the center, and it provides salaries for the staff.

After attending the festival, Andreia met with our new Volunteer Coordinator, Yara, to discuss the programs that the center offers to the children and their parents. The center supports about fifty children on a regular basis, many of whom are sponsored through our program. In addition to receiving clothes, food, school supplies, and hygiene items, thanks to sponsors and donors, the kids are also kept safe at the center. One of the ways in which it does this is through a soccer club. The club not only ensures that children get the exercise they need to stay healthy, but it also keeps them busy after school, so that they do not become involved with drugs or violence, which are prevalent in the impoverished community in which they live.

Yara told Andreia that she wished there were more support for the soccer club; she would love for the children to have new uniforms and soccer cleats – and the field is in need of renovation. Yara mentioned that with a new soccer field, the center could rent it for use by other teams, and generate even more income – which would be a big help in supporting even more children in the future.

A variety of other programs

Along with the soccer program, a volunteer psychologist at the center has been helping the community for several years now. He provides individual and group therapy, which are essential to recovery for children and families after experiencing violence and abuse. The center also provides support to pregnant women and newborns in the community. The administration regularly provides classes on abuse prevention and being a good citizen. The center also has a program called “Mesa Brasil,” in which groceries and fresh produce are distributed to families two to three times a week.

Before her visit ended, Andreia was also able to see a community bakery that is run by CARITAS. The bakery was started about six years ago with the help of donated funds from Children Incorporated, and it allows mothers of our sponsored and unsponsored kids to generate extra income. The mothers often get together when they are not baking to share ideas and recipes, and to discuss how they can work together to increase their incomes through baking – thereby supporting their families so that they may have the opportunity to escape poverty.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Brazil that is available for sponsorship.

Supporting Children in Brazil Who Face Trauma

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 rainforest, 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, however, Brazil suffers from staggering poverty, rising inflation, unemployment, and a lack of social development. More recently, due to a conflict between the truckers’ union and the government over high gas prices, a truckers’ strike has created transportation issues throughout the country, which has caused school closures. During these trying circumstances, Children Incorporated continues to help support children living in poverty in Brazil so that they may have better opportunities in life – all thanks to our sponsors and donors.

The center comprises homes where children reside with foster parents who support them in overcoming the adversity they faced in abusive households, so that they may have a safe and healthy childhood.

Fostering kids in need

Children Incorporated is affiliated with five projects in Brazil. Casas Lares – ACRIDAS, the CADI center, and the Recanto Esperanza Center are all located in the capital city of Curitiba in Parana; and projects Irmandade Nossa Senhora Das Gracas and the CARITAS – Novo Milenio Center are about seven hours south of there, in the city of Lages. On a recent trip to Brazil, our International Projects Specialist, Andreia Beraldo, traveled to Curitiba, a sprawling city just south of Sao Paulo, where she visited our affiliated project Casas Lares – ACRIDAS. While there, she met not only with our volunteer coordinators at the project, but also with our sponsored children and the foster parents who care for them.

Casas Lares – ACRIDAS was established after a non-profit organization of business and civic leaders, ACRIDAS (the Christian Association of Social Assistance), witnessed the plight of poor children living in the slum neighborhoods in Curitiba, and decided to take action. They established several orphanages to assist these deserving young people, including Casas Lares – ACRIDAS.

Many children who are placed at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS are there by court order, to protect them from the threats of abuse, drugs, violence, and malnutrition that they faced while living with their biological parents. The center comprises homes where children reside with foster parents who support them in overcoming the adversity they faced in abusive households, so that they may have a safe and healthy childhood; and all the while, the center provides the kids with additional support.

The foster homes at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS are clustered around the center, which has served between 48 and 62 children at a time, from birth to twelve years old. Casas Lares – ACRIDAS utilizes monthly sponsorship funds from Children Incorporated to purchase school supplies, clothes, shoes, food, and hygiene items for the children there. Thanks to their sponsors, these kids have the resources they need to attend school so that they can learn and become healthy adults.

The kids are able to run and play with each other at the home.

Our Volunteer Coordinators Rodinéia and Angela showed Andreia around the well-maintained two-story building, which was constructed a few years ago thanks to contributions from Children Incorporated donors. Casas Lares – ACRIDAS was originally intended to be a nursery for the younger infants; but as a result of changes to Brazilian law, the number of infants at the home has decreased, as they are now typically placed at individual foster homes not affiliated with this project. Today, a portion of the building is still being used as a nursery for the youngest children, while an industrial kitchen and several administrative offices occupy the rest.

Helping children cope

During her visit, Andreia was given the opportunity to have lunch with some of our sponsored and unsponsored children, and to meet their foster mothers. Rodinéia and Angela shared stories with her about the children, explaining the reasons for which they had been placed at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS. They talked about how all of the children had suffered extreme violence and trauma in their young lives; many of them have seen and experienced severe cruelty.

Thankfully, however, the kids are able to run and play with each other at the home, where they are given a chance to forget about the traumatizing events they have witnessed in their lives. Andreia noticed that some of the children were more reserved than others on the playground; but they all seemed to be enjoying themselves, thanks to the care they receive from our coordinators and their foster parents at Casas Lares – ACRIDAS.

Andreia learned from her visit that the current primary need of the children beyond the regular support they receive from sponsorship is psychological monitoring. Rodinéia shared that 100 percent of the children there need continuous psychological therapy to help them process the trauma they have lived through, and to support their healthy growth. The children receive free health care from the government, but there is always a long wait to be seen by a public psychologist.

A large number of the children are left without psychological monitoring, which is essential for children with such distressing backgrounds. With additional help, these children, who have already dealt with much hardship in their lives, will not only have the opportunity to grow up in a loving environment, but will also hopefully be able to overcome the adversity they have faced at such young ages.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Brazil that is available for sponsorship.

Growing Up with Children Incorporated

In the town of Fazenda Rio Grande on the outskirts of Curitiba in southern Brazil, our affiliated project Centro de Assistência e Desenvolvimento Integral (CADI) supports families who struggle to afford even the most basic of needs – and especially education-related expenses – for their children. What began in 1994 as a soccer school to motivate and assist children from low-income families has now become CADI  – a national nonprofit organization that provides assistance and developmental support to kids and families. The CADI center’s mission is to motivate and equip deserving children to rise above the difficulties they face, and to overcome poverty as adults.

The CADI center serves about 300 children on a regular basis, and it offers classes in robotics, arts and crafts, civics and ethics, martial arts, circus performance, and several other subjects that help children to develop the abilities and skills that are required to become successful adults. It also provides tutoring opportunities for kids, and houses sports teams that students may join.

The CADI center’s mission is to motivate and equip deserving children to rise above the difficulties they face, and to overcome poverty as adults.

Many of the children who go to the center after school live in nearby neighborhoods, and are abused and suffer severe violence in their own homes. Some of the kids in our sponsorship program are vulnerable to witnessing drug abuse at home or in the community, and some of them suffer from health problems. Most of the children come from broken homes where they live with just their mother, or with a stepparent or grandparent.

Believing in her own potential

On a recent trip to Brazil, our International Projects Specialist, Andreia Beraldo, visited the CADI center, which is located about forty minutes from downtown Curitiba. Visiting the center was very special for Andreia, because our Volunteer Coordinator there, Arianny, used to be a sponsored child at the project herself.

Arianny is a great example of how sponsorship assistance can make a big difference in a child’s life. She started attending the CADI center when she was only four years old, right around the time her parents divorced. While she was growing up, she received support from her sponsor and the center, and her parents attended counseling sessions at CADI. While meeting with one another, Arianny mentioned to Andreia that as a result of the counseling her parents received while she was growing up, they decided to re-marry, and their family is once again united.

As she became older, Arianny learned about ethics and arts and crafts, and she acquired a variety of skills at the CADI center. As a teenager, she became interested in social work, and decided to volunteer at the center to help other children who were growing up in impoverished families, like she did. When she graduated from high school, she started studying social work at a local university.

After graduating from college in 2015, Arianny became an intern at a local hospital. In 2016, the CADI center hired her as a social worker. As she told her story to Andreia, Arianny became emotional, because thanks to the CADI center and the support she received from Children Incorporated, she learned to believe in her own potential, and she grew up with hope for the future and a positive perspective in life.

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HOW Do I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Brazil that is available for sponsorship.

An Invitation of a Lifetime

Not long ago, we receive a letter from our volunteer coordinator at our affiliated project CADI (Centro de Assistência e Desenvolvimento Integral) in Brazil about one of our sponsored children, Celia*. Celia, an avid rugby player at her high school, was invited to play professionally, and was in need of support to purchase a new uniform, proper shoes, and to cover her travel expenses to and from matches. Her coordinator asked Children Incorporated if we could help, and we were happy to do so, knowing that this was the opportunity of a lifetime for Celia to pursue her dreams.

Getting to know CADI

Celia has been playing rugby since 2014.

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 rainforest – recognized for having the greatest biological diversity on the planet – sprawls over the country’s northern half, and there are rugged mountains to the south. Despite its wealth of natural resources and beauty, Brazil suffers from staggering poverty, rising inflation, unemployment, and a lack of social development. These issues are especially pronounced in Fazenda Rio Grande, a town in the outskirts of Curitiba in southern Brazil.

There, many families struggle to afford even the most basic necessities – including their children’s education-related expenses. What began in 1994 as a soccer school to motivate and assist the children of these low-income families has now become CADI – a national nonprofit organization that maintains a center for holistic development in Fazenda Rio Grande. CADI’s mission is to motivate and equip these deserving children to rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come, thus helping them to break the cycle of poverty. Thanks to CADI’s support, as well as that of her sponsor, Celia has been able to attend school, and to find her passion for the sport of rugby.

A letter to her sponsor

We are very proud of Celia for her accomplishments, and we wish her all the best as she continues to work hard both in school and on the rugby field.

Upon finding out that she had been asked to play on a professional rugby team, Celia wrote a letter to her sponsor explaining how she first got started playing the sport years ago.

“Dear Sponsor,

“It’s been six years since I started attending CADI, and during these years, I have participated in various activities and classes. I started playing rugby in 2014. I started playing just for fun with a friend of mine, even when many people say that it is a sport for boys. Who would have guessed that two tough girls would make history for our team? Our team keeps winning at festivals and in competitions.”

We are very proud of Celia for her accomplishments, and we wish her all the best as she continues to work hard both in school and on the rugby field.

*Name changed for child’s protection.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child in Brazil that is available for sponsorship.

Educating Girls Is Critical to Reducing Poverty

International Women’s Day is coming up next week, on March 8. It’s a time for us to reflect on the contributions women make to society, despite the massive challenges they face here and around the globe.

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Anyone can see that women and girls are still less valued than men and boys in many cultures. Women – even educated women – still earn significantly less than men in the job market. And in some cultures, young girls are not even given opportunities for learning or growth so that they may support themselves and their families in the future.

We’d like to think of this as a problem found only in impoverished countries; but the discrepancy is easy to track in America as well.

A recent story in the Dallas Morning News stated that seventeen percent of women and girls in Texas live in poverty. Sadly, that’s not out of line with the national average: 14.7 percent of American women are living in poverty – a significantly higher rate than that of men – according to the 2015 Census.

A lot of that has to do with the wage gap: women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar that men make. But it also has to do with a systematic lack of opportunities for girls, and that’s where Children Incorporated has been directing its efforts.

Education is the key

At Children Incorporated, we work to break that cycle, helping to give children the opportunity to get an education so that they can, as adults, rise above poverty.

We already know that education is critical in reducing poverty rates. Many children live in situations where one or both parents are either uneducated, or at the very least, are undereducated. As such, these parents often have very low-wage jobs, with few or no benefits. Due to a lack of financial resources in the family, they have an incredibly difficult time moving up and improving their station in life. If only the parents were better educated and more qualified to hold higher-paying jobs with benefits and perks, perhaps the family could escape the trappings of poverty.

At Children Incorporated, we work to break that cycle, helping to give children the opportunity to get an education so that they can, as adults, rise above poverty.

Raising role models

One shining example can be found in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Last spring, Children Incorporated Director of Development Shelley Callahan and Director of International Programs Luis Bourdet visited Villa Emilia, a small compound just outside of the city that helps women and children who have been living on the streets turn their lives around.

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The alleys of Santa Cruz are home to countless women who work the streets to keep their children fed. It’s hard and dangerous, and often illegal. The children grow up uneducated and homeless themselves. As they grow into adulthood, the boys can become laborers or field hands. The girls, however, often have no options but to take to the streets too – thus continuing the cycle.

Sister Pilar and the nuns at Villa Emilia find these families in the alleys and bring them to the community to live. The women are trained in garment making, the children are educated, and everyone is taught work ethic and life skills that they can pass down.

The Sisters also help families to build permanence and stability. When families move to Villa Emilia, they live in homes that are owned by the Sisters. However, with the wages they earn in the villa’s garment factory, the women purchase homes of their own, giving their children a fresh start living in a new home and getting an education.

Focusing on women has been paying off – the children wear clothes their mothers have sewn themselves, they live in houses purchased by their mothers, and they go to schools that are available to them because of their mothers’ efforts. These mothers have become role models for the girls – and the boys – of the next generation.

Focusing on women has been paying off – the children wear clothes their mothers have sewn themselves, they live in houses purchased by their mothers, and they go to schools that are available to them because of their mothers’ efforts. These mothers have become role models for the girls – and the boys – of the next generation.

Skills for life

In Lages, Brazil, Children Incorporated began supporting women of Grupo Art’Mulher, a community bakery that sells cookies, breads, pastas, and cakes. The group’s purpose is to teach business skills and a trade to mothers, who also earn an income for their work.

In its first year, twenty women received instruction on how to bake and how to sell baked goods. Grupo Art’Mulher began making a name for itself at the local market, and many members of the first class ended up getting jobs in the food industry.

That was five years ago, and since then, the program has only grown. The mothers of Grupo Art’Mulher have learned to support their families, and have learned cooking and business skills to pass down to their own children. They’ve also earned enough to give back – a percentage of the bakery income will be donated to start music and theater courses in a building across the street froDSCF3105m it this year.

In some areas, like in Santa Cruz and Lages, we sponsor programs aimed toward women and girls specifically. But at all of our projects, we value girls and include them in our programs just as we do boys. We do not support work where intolerance or gender prejudice is known to exist.

In areas for which we fundraise to create special facilities, such as the computer lab we helped get up-and-running in Mexico, or the school we built in Bolivia, female students are afforded the same access to services as the male ones. In Guatemala, we support a wonderful school where children are given vocational training of all kinds – and the girls are just as involved, if not even more so, than the boys.

Changing communities is a slow, but steady process, and all evidence points to the fact that more and more girls are receiving a good education.

Changing communities is a slow, but steady process, and all evidence points to the fact that more and more girls are receiving a good education. That will allow them to do better in life financially than their parents did, and to slowly change the outlook of the entire community in which they live.

Self-Sufficiency

The Pumwani slum of Nairobi is considered one of the worst communities in the world. Between 70,000 and 100,000 people live crowded together in shacks about the size of an American bathroom, with no water or electricity, and along streets of mud.

One of our projects there is St. John’s Community Center, where 200 children are taught academic subjects, as well as trades like woodworking, metal work, sewing, and cooking, so that they can get jobs and get out of the slums.DSCF9626

And sometimes success is easy to see in someone’s face. Callahan and Bourdet met a graduate of the program, Mwanaharusi, who learned to sew at St. John’s. She saved enough money to buy a foot-powered sewing machine, and now has her own business making clothes and mending garments.

It’s modest success by some standards; but in the darkest corners of the world, it’s a major victory. A girl born into poverty in a country where girls are often not educated at all – finishes school, starts her own business, and is able to support herself and her family.

Moving Forward

With every success like Mwanaharusi’s, we move one step closer to equality. But we don’t do it alone. With funding from our sponsors, and with continued attention to childhood poverty and income inequality – both at home and abroad – we will keep moving forward together, one step at a time.

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How do I sponsor a child through Children Incorporated?

You can sponsor a child with Children Incorporated in one of three ways – call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org, or go online to our donation portal, create an account, and search for a child that is available for sponsorship.

A Fully-Baked Idea Brings Economic Stability to Brazilian Moms

When the mothers of the CARITAS-Novo Milenio Center presented the community’s children with their signature jumbo-sized birthday cake, they had a lot to celebrate.

This year marked the fifth anniversary of the Grupo Art’Mulher, a group of women who formed a community bakery which sells cookies, breads, handmade pasta – and, of course, cakes!

230278479460523-xy4kit7rbqzekye69udf_height640Novo Milenio is a poor district outside of Lages, Brazil, a country that simultaneously contains some of the world’s richest culture as well as a disturbingly high level of poverty. The Catholic Church established the CARITAS-Novo Milenio Center to oversee some of the efforts to care for this community at a nuclear-family level, focusing on both child and parent alike.

A priest from the Caritas diocese and a volunteer coordinator keep the place running, with indispensable help from community members.

“The community is very united,” says Andreia Beraldo, International Programs Project Specialist for Children Incorporated. “I could see on my first visit that they’re always working together.” This collaborative spirit is part of the reason Children Incorporated was so interested in getting involved with CARITAS-Novo Milenio in the first place. A willing, creative, and practical community helps spread a program’s reach and deepen its impact.

“The community is very united,” says Andreia Beraldo, International Programs Project Specialist for Children Incorporated. “I could see on my first visit that they’re always working together.”

By early 2016, Children Incorporated had funded a successful tutoring program for the eighty children who attend the center, a vegetable garden project, and (through sponsorships) helped cover the costs of food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, and other necessaries.

So when CARITAS-Novo Milenio proposed the idea of a mother-run bakery that would teach business skills and a trade while generating income, Children Incorporated was ready to get on board.

Teach a Parent, Impact a Child

It’s well-known among those who practice social work with Brazil’s children: if you teach skills to parents, you not only benefit their children’s lives, but you also help another generation of Brazilians become more self-sufficient. Of the five projects Children Incorporated supports in Brazil, three of them focus on developing both the parents’ and children’s skills – all with encouraging results.

226341427036341-l9uj5jz4g2ldvh6qjvwy_height640But the bakery, which would be called Grupo Art’Mulher (literally, “Women’s Art Group”), would do so much more than just teach these mothers how to bake. The twenty women who became the program’s first participants were taught how to achieve economic solidarity through the manufacturing and sale of baked goods. The plan was to have a teacher instruct the women on baking cookies, breads, and cakes – and how to sell them.

And sell them, they did! Art’Mulher began making a name for itself at the local market, where its cakes, breads, and pasteis were in high demand.

Of that first group of twenty, many did find jobs making food – and they also found themselves returning to participate in center activities.

“Their increased self-esteem was visible,” remembers Maria Aparecida da Fonseca, the center’s volunteer coordinator. “And this is strengthening the Novo Milenio community.” She credits the program and others supported by Children Incorporated at the center for motivating families to tend to their home gardens, make more nutritious food, and even sell some of their produce at farmers’ markets, and increasing their income.

“Their increased self-esteem was visible,” remembers Maria Aparecida da Fonseca, the center’s volunteer coordinator. “And this is strengthening the Novo Milenio community.”

What’s Next for Novo Milenio?

The eight women who currently bake for Art’Mulher will have good news: the community bakery will be funded another year. But CARITAS-Novo Milenio won’t stop there in 2017; their plan is to initiate music and theater courses in a house across the street from the center. The renovation of that house is also in the plan, and the Art’Mulher mothers’ have donated a small percentage of their bakery income to that very project. That extra space would come in handy, giving the center more space to help more children with more activities.

The ladies from Art’Mulher are sharing the recipe for their popular birthday cake for you to try on your next special occasion!:

White Birthday Cake

Ingredients:

2 ½  cups (215 g) flour

1 1/3 cups (275 g) sugar

1 tbsp + 1 tsp (10 g) baking powder

¼ cup (65 ml) water

6 eggs

1 can dulce de leche

Whipped cream or icing to cover the cake

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using a mixer, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, water, and eggs in a bowl for 10 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Pour batter into 8” cake pan.
  4. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back from the touch – about 35 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack.
  6. Separate into 2 layers and fill with dulce de leche.
  7. Frost with whipped cream or icing of your choice.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN BRAZIL?

You can sponsor a child in Brazil in one of two ways – call our office and speak with one of our sponsorship specialists at 1-800-538-5381, or go online to our donation portal, create and account, and search for a child in Brazil that is available for sponsorship.