Merry Christmas from all of us at Mata Escura and the GVI Charitable Trust!
As you may have seen, we recently altered the title of this project to more accurately reflect the importance your donations play in providing food for the children we work with in Salvador.
As a result of the financial hardship and a lack of dietary education in the favela, many of the children show signs of malnutrition. These can include weight loss, poor growth, increased susceptibility to illness and poor concentration levels.
At the Mata Escura project we aim to improve nutrition by providing students with 3 balanced meals per day. The day starts with fresh fruit (bought locally) and yoghurt or mingau, a traditional Brazilian porridge. Lunch is normally rice, beans or pasta with chicken, beef or soya protein and before leaving in the afternoon children receive a soup. We also provide weekend and holiday food and fruit packages whenever possible to help ensure that children are well fed when not at school.The project employs a local cook, Sonia, to prepare the school meals. She is a very talented and resourceful chef, who creates tasty, healthy meals from scratch and with limited resources. We are very lucky to have her and happy to employ someone from the community in which we work.
We have begun to see the benefits of this work to improve nutrition with concentration levels improving greatly and the frequency of sickness amongst the kids reducing - please help us keep this up! Just $10 will provide 6 meals!
Sending all our thanks for supporting these children in 2013 and have a very happy and safe holiday!
Students returned to school from the Sao Joao holidays in early July. As usual some families decided to remain in the countryside after the festive period and a number of new children also arrived at the school for the first time. In total 8 students have not yet reported back for class, but an additional 11 students have enrolled for the first time. This is a pattern we witness every year; most of our families have migrated to Salvador from the countryside looking for employment. Sao Joao is an opportunity to visit home and depending on work opportunities and family circumstances each year some decide to stay – unfortunately the promise of regular work in the city does not become a reality for most. We were pleased to see a net increase of 3 students overall.
Recent donations have contributed toward assisting salaries for the teachers, assistants and cooks that work at Grandmother Clara’s Dream Educational Community Creche.
On 12th October 2013 Brasil will be celebrating Day of the Child, (Dia da Criança), this annual festival is marked by a party in the city park organised by the local council for all public schools. This is always a source of big excitment for our students – for most it will be one of only 2 days out each year, along with our annual Christmas park trip also covered by your generous donations. The buzz is already building and Andreia, our teacher, reports that the kids have been asking for a daily countdown to the party every morning when they arrive! At the party they will receive a picnic organised by the council and have the opportunity to take part in activities such as face painting and dancing . Transport is provided by local bus companies….if only the city of Salvador could pull together for more such efforts to help it’s poor communities.
Academic success continues in the school, with 5 more students reading their first words since we returned from Sao Joao holidays.
We are now entering the hottest months in Brasil and we are making sure we are prepared with a new paddling pool for keeping the youngest children cool. We have also invested in 3 new fans for the naptime room, where high temperatures were preventing our little ones from getting some much needed rest during the day. We have also added a new tap in the playground, to help make sure children are staying cool and drinking enough water.
Thank you very much for your support
I am happy to be in touch again with an update from our project in Brazil. We currently care for 75 children and our doors are always open to new students. We do not receive any state funding and are 100% reliant on your donations to continue our work in this neglected community so we sincerely thank you for your support. Below is a report from Emma Astles, Teacher and Project Director in Brazil:
We employ a team of 3 local people, creating much needed employment in the favela. Andreia our school teacher, Sonia our school cook and Claudia our nursery nurse and kitchen assistant were all born and raised in Mata Escura. They have great pride in their work and the opportunity the school creates for the new generation in the favela. We will use a large part of this donation to fund their salaries as follows:
Diets are poor amongst the families we work with, many children survive on rice, biscuits and sugary drinks, with very little fresh food or fruit. The effects of this are reflected in their susceptibility to illness and concentration problems. We provide our students with 3 meals per day and fresh fruit at least 3 days per week. This normally consists of porridge for breakfast, rice, beans, meat and vegetables for lunch and soup in the afternoon. At weekends and during the holidays, we do our best to provide families with food parcels and fruit.
Recent news from the school:
- We are very pleased to announce that Andreia has passed her first set of exams on the road to becoming a qualified teacher. She is studying in the evenings at a college in Salvador and really enjoying the work.
- We received an additional 7 students when we returned from the carnival holidays. These kids are settling in really well and are fantastic additions to our school.
- One of our older children, Franciele, recently received top marks in her end of year school exams at the local secondary school – she has been studying with us in the afternoons and at our daily homework session since the school began.
Thank you again for all your support for this project and I look forward to being in touch with more news soon
GVI Charitable Trust manager
Our school, Educandário Creche Comunitária Sonho Vovó Clara, or Grandmother Clara´s Educational Community Creche was named in honour of local woman Maria Clara Barbosa. Maria Clara was born on 12th August 1912 to a very poor family. She married young, had 6 children and raised a further 5 grandchildren. Although she was illiterate, she always instilled in her children the importance of education and despite great financial and social constraints 2 of her children went on to graduate as teachers - an incredible achievement for a family facing such difficulties.
This achievement brought Maria Clara particular pride as teaching had always been the profession she had most admired and wished she had been able to pursue. Since an early age she had harboured a dream to open a creche and community centre to help the needy in her local community. As she entered old age she increasingly began to offer shelter and food to abandoned and needy children and vulnerable elderly people in the favela. She became well known locally by the nickname ´Vovó Clara´ or ´Granny Clara´ and worked tirelessly to help those in need - opening her humble residence to all those who needed her help and treating them as if they were her own children.
Maria Clara tirelessly continued this benevolent work for many years and was a much loved figure in the local community. Unfortunately she eventually became frail and on the 26th January 1993 she passed away, aged 81, not before she had returned to school and learnt how to read and write - her belief in the importance of education never waned.
For 10 years after her death, her son Eraldo Barbosa did not stop pursuing the dream of finally opening Maria Clar´s creche. In 2000 he achieved his aim and the Educandário Creche Comunitária Sonho Vovó Clara opened it´s doors, offering free education, childcare and food to Mata Escura´s neediest children. His home was converted into classrooms and he funded the work with his own modest administrator´s pension. Since then the creche has relied on volunteers and the erratic donations of food and materials that Eraldo has managed to obtained through his campaigning to local businesses. It has been a constant battle to keep the school alive and continue offering a safe haven for the children of this troubled region, however Eraldo´s persistence is tireless. In his own words - ´the battle is a big one, but I am not going to give up the fight for these children, who are our future, every one of their hugs, kisses and smiles gives me renewed determination not to stop battling for them.´
When we return from carnival week we will be welcoming lots of new children. The school’s growing good reputation in the local community has seen more and more students, aged from 6 months to 18 years, sign up for classes and as long as we are able to we will never turn a child away.2012 ended on a really high note – take a look at the new photos we have added of our end of year Christmas party. The children had a really great time and we were able to make sure everyone left with a Christmas present! The little girls were over the moon with new Barbie school rucksacks! For most of our students this will be the only Christmas present they received – thank you to our supporters for making it possible.Unfortunately the drug related gang violence in the favela has worsened throughout the last year and every one of our children has come face to face with the bloodshed in one way or another. On the positive side however, we had amazing success in the classroom in 2012 with some of our youngest students starting to read and write on their own. The smiles on their faces when they made these big breakthroughs were only matched by the pride on ours! Please continue to help us offer a safe haven for these bright and bubbly children, giving them the chance to play, learn and grow and enjoy being kids.
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