Prospects for the future
In Brazil, the largest and most populous country in South America, “Kinder in Not” finances three facilities for children and youths in need and their families. Apart from monthly cash accounting and reports to keep an eye on the assistance we provide, we consider it essential to check up on the lasting effect of our work on the spot through regular visits. In order to gain a personal impression of our aid projects without burdening the finances of “Kinder in Not,” our staff travel at their own expense.
On this year's trip to Brazil, we visited three daycare centers for children from HIV-positive families in São Paulo, the care center for boys and girls from the slums of Porto Alegre, and the Creche Bom Samaration in Rio de Janeiro.
Beneath the Olympic whitewash
As the Olympic Games were about to take place, Rio de Janeiro had spruced up the city for this great event. It was hard to miss the refurbishing, renovation, and rebuilding that was going on everywhere. One classic example is the new Porto Marvilha waterside district. The long-neglected area has been turned into an urban paradise. But the “moros” or hills, home to the “favelas” or slums, are also a part of Rio. Life in this region is mired in violence, drugs, abuse, and utter hopelessness.
It is the children who bear the brunt. They roam around
aimlessly in their torn and dirty clothes, begging on the streets or collecting trash. As a result, these boys and girls quickly come into conflict with the law, consume alcohol and drugs, or resort to prostitution. They have no prospects and you can see the hopelessness in their eyes. In our daycare centers, these children often experience a protected environment for the first time in their lives. They can relax, eat nourishing meals, and obtain medical care. There are people who ensure that they attend school regularly, They are given targeted assistance with specific school subjects and can also pursue vocational opportunities. Cultural, sporting, and artistic activities help the boys and girls to develop their personalities and to take responsibility for their lives.
One serious problem faced by our young charges is the growing brutality in the slums. A violent skirmish erupted recently in the favela as the two- to six-year-old children in our daycare center were on their way home. The boys and girls had left the center at 5 p.m. but only arrived home four hours later because of the fithting. Two-year-old Victor Hugo asked the next day if he could stay permanently in the center. “People are al-ways firing guns at home," he explained. But the center itself is not spared either. A couple of weeks earlier, the carers and their charges had a deeply harrowing experience when a gun battle in the slum spread as far as the area across the street from the center. The panic-stricken children and employees endured a traumatic situation that continued for several hours. Local circumstances have been made worse by spiraling inflation, causing a surge in rents and a four-fold or more spike in some food prices in the last few months. A kilo of beans – an absolute staple - now costs € 4.60 instead of € 0.95. This also poses a major problem for our facilities, which have to pay much more for the children’s daily meals.
An inspiring success story
We were pleased to hear of a success story at our center Casa Criança Querida. On our visit, we met Laura, a new member of the team. She had arrived at Casa Criança Querida as an 11-yearold. Her father was unemployed, and her mother was struggling to feed the family by taking cleaning jobs. No one at home encouraged the girl to attend school regularly or ensured that she had regular warm meals. The tireless efforts of our two daycare center directors turned her life around. Laura is now in her first year as an education student. She hopes to become a preschool teacher so as to repay some of the help she has received. When she is not studying, she works as a teaching assistant in our group for schoolchildren so as to be able to finance her studies. At the same time, she can successfully gain invaluable practical teaching experience at Casa Criança Querida. Perhaps she will one day direct our daycare center. What would have become of her without the extensive support of our local team? Wherever she goes from here, she is just one of many successful cases of helping people to help themselves.
Success stories like this motivate us to keep on fighting for these seemingly ill-fated boys and girls. We hope that we can enlist many more people in this important work.