Crime is at endemic levels throughout the city of Salvador, which is the capital of Bahia´s marijuana and cocaine trafficking industry. Gang violence in the favelas is also on the increase. Despite widespread publicity of these critical levels of violence, crime still attracts many adolescents who are drawn by the notion of an easy route to improving their financial status and feel there are few other options open to them.
To provide an anecdotal example of the lure of crime and gang culture for the city´s youth, in a discussion at our school about what the children wanted to do when they grew up, one 5 year old student told us that he wanted to be a thief, his justification being that ´a thief gets everything he wants and doesn’t have to work for it’. This same child had witnessed his own father, who was involved in the local drug trade, shot dead in front of him by the police just a month earlier.
We have had some great successes on this project but we rely entirely on your donations to continue our work. Here at Grandmother Clara´s Dream we firmly believe in education as a basic human right and the best route to offering the children of this troubled community the opportunity of a brighter future.
All the best
GVI Charitable Trust
At the school in Mata Escura, on the outskirts of the city of Salvador, students are preparing for Carnaval 2014, which begins on 27th February. The Carnaval celebrations in Salvador are the largest in Brasil – last year 527,000 tourists flocked to the City for the week-long festival of music and excess. The Carnaval week is traditionally a public holiday for locals and the school will be closed, however not all our students will be joining the party.
For many impoverished families in Salvador, Carnaval offers a much needed opportunity to earn some money. Small family enterprises spring up all over the beachfront district during this period, and although the local authorities have been tightening the restrictions on unauthorised street vendors, a very large number of the city’s children still earn money that week selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs and finding parking spaces for drivers. We have witnessed children as young as 4 years old selling canned drinks along the Carnaval route. The situation for these kids is far from ideal, but it would be idealistic to try and prevent families from taking advantage of this opportunity.
Unfortunately there is a darker side to Carnaval – crime rates (already amongst the highest in Brasil) take a dramatic rise during this week. Pickpocketing and drug dealing reach endemic levels and children, owing to their size and protection from prosecution are sadly often involved. It is the continued work of our school to try and protect our students from becoming involved in Salvador’s criminal world.
Back to the school – our students returned from the Christmas break in the second week of January. A new intake for 2014 saw a lot of new faces – lots of new younger students are in the process of adjusting to crèche. It is great to see that our school continues to grow in reputation and popularity in the favela and there was a queue of new enrolees on opening day.
A number of our oldest students were enrolled in the local state school at the end of December. We encourage parents to register their children for state education as soon as they are old enough - in Bahia the enrolment age is 7 years old. The public education system has many problems, class sizes are very large, lessons are regularly cancelled due to a lack of teaching staff and facilities are poor – but attending the state school is the only way that children can obtain the formal qualifications that they will require later in life. As children only attend the public school for half days, we offer ‘Banca’ = reinforcement classes for these students for the remainder of the day. During ‘Banca’ children can get help with their homework, extra tuition, lunch or breakfast and a safe place to stay for the remainder of the day whilst their parents are at work.
Our ‘Banca’ students are also providing invaluable assistance to teacher Andrea in helping the younger students adjust to life at the creche, assisting in the classroom during her lessons and at lunchtime. In a perfect world this would not be necessary and we would be able to offer extra tuition to these older students 100% of the time, unfortunately however our teaching resources are limited and their help is greatly appreciated. Whilst schoolwork will always come first, we also believe that there is an intrinsic value in the teaching and nurturing skills that the older students are developing and we have been very impressed in the transformation of some students who had behavioural problems in the past but, have flourished when caring for their younger colleagues.
Thank you for continuing to support this project and we look forward to being in touch again soon!
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
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