The project Children of Heaven gets children off the streets. We show them the importance of school education and dreams and give them a new perspective. In classes on crafts-making, music or football they develop their identitiy.
A group of women did not want to stand by and watch growing violence and poverty of the children in Arraial. They organised a building and opened the educational project Children of Heaven for socially disadvantaged children and families. Soon one was able to hear children’s voices, music and Capooeira jumps from the building.
Despite relying only on voluntary work – done in between family and job duties – the project has been very successful. More than 100 children regularly attend the classes.
“Teachers come to us and ask us what happened to the children, says Madalena. “You can really tell the difference, they radiate happiness, are treat each other better and show solidarity to each other. They have also understood the importance of regularly going to school."
HOW DOES THE PROJECT WORK?
Children of Heaven is direct at children and youths between the ages six and 20 who live in the street or in families with problems. One of the key goals is that the children regularly attend school and thereby improve their future prospects. Its main goal is however, to achieve a transformation in the children’s heads. The children are to feel that they are worth something and receive opportunities to develop their identity and self-confidence. Developing perspectives, deams but also mututal consideration and respect are important goals. Prevention and working with the families prevent the children from ending in the streets, quitting school or getting involved with drugs or crime.
In order to achieve all this, volunteers offer classes, for instance in Capoeira, crafts-making, football, guitar-playing, drumming, dress-making or homework-help. Many of the skills learnt in the classes can later be used to earn money in the tourist village. Important issues like perspectives for the future, drugs, family, sexuality or violence are talked through with the children; values are redefined. The project cooperates with the organisation Pastoral da Crianca, which carries out regular family visits, to better follow the children’s situation at home.
Regularly attending school is a condition for the children’s participation. A small library enables them to read books, which their families could never afford. There is close cooperation with a pedeatrician and a dentist to look after the children’s health. Furthermore, all children are served a hot meal.
The project’s most important ingredients are love and attention. They make the children “blossom” and help solve problems at school and in the family.
Further information: www.susiladharma.de/brasilien
Location: Arraial d'Ajuda, Brazil