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.
Thank you so much for looking at our page. My name is Emma, I am the Project Director and one of 2 teachers here at the school in Mata Escura, Brasil and I wanted to explain to you what we do here and also give you an update on recent achievements.
We are an independent community school, without religious or political bias, offering free of charge education and child care to underprivileged children aged 2 - 16 years. Our school is located in the favela slum of Mata Escura, on the outskirts of the city of Salvador in North Eastern Brazil.
The community is deeply affected by violent crime, illiteracy, unemployment and a lack of quality housing and amenities. Many families are torn apart by drug trafficking and abuse and the city´s gang culture, which costs many young lives.
Since 2010 we have been offering a safe, caring, educational environment for the children of this community. A place where they can play, develop and learn and receive 3 balanced meals per day. We also provide reinforcement classes to older children and teenagers - helping them with their homework and providing teaching on the regular ocassions when their lessons at the local college are cancelled.
We currently care for 82 children and our doors are always open to new students, however we are 100% reliant on your donations to continue our vital work in this neglected community.
2 weeks ago at the school we celebrated the children's second ever Halloween party - the kids absolutely love this new addition and really enjoyed scaring each other with a spooky ghost hunt around the school buildings. The older children did pumpkin face painting with the younger ones and we finished the party by decorating cupcakes that Sonia the school cook had made. The excitement when the kids found out they could take these cakes home and eat them was incredible! Without donations from people like you we wouldn't be able to provide the children with these simple but memorable moments of happiness.
We have made some huge leaps forward academically in recent months with a number of children making big breakthroughs with their reading and writing. It was heartwarming to see 6 members of our first intake from 2010 aged 5 and 6 begin reading independently. A generous donation received earlier this year helped us to purchase good quality books for the school for the first time. These new books have played such a huge part in inspiring the children, we have been able to introduce daily story time and the children's interest in learning to read has tripled - it is great to see the kids squablling over books, not just footballs! One of older pupils, who struggles with learning difficulties, has also just learnt to write his name on his own for the first time - the pride on his face when he achieved this was fantastic to see and is such a critical milestone for his future.
In this coming months we will be starting a Christmas decoration art project and looking to raise funds to fix a recurring problem with our classroom roof, which is leaking once again. We hope to have both finished in time for a Christmas party for the children. In the new year we hope to restart our free of charge english classes for our young single mothers, these classes aim to engage the local mums with our work and also give them a vital skill to improve their employment prospects.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit our page and we hope you will choose to support our cause - your support is vital and hugely appreciated.
After over two years of working with the community of Mata Escura in Salvador, Brazil this project has helped the community to create a stable, educational, fun and safe environment for vulnerable children. Without the school the children we have been working with would be left to wander the streets where they will be exposed to many dangers and risks.
The school has now grown and developed into something wonderful, a place where children have grown in confidence and developed their learning to new and exciting levels.
Thanks to generous support from donors and much hard work and time from GVI volunteers we feel we have come a long way. Project director Dom Williams explains:
"We have built classrooms, a playground and a new kitchen, the foundations of a good, safe environment for learning, and also showed local staff how it can be done and taken forward. Many thanks for your help to get us to this position and here is to a prosperous future, with what is in place."
Thank you to everyone who has supported this project, none of this would have been possible without you. We wish the community, staff and children in Mata Escura and each of you a very happy and prosperous New Year.
On a general note, recent donations have allowed the school to continue functioning providing education and childcare to children aged 6months - 16 years in the violence and poverty stricken favela of Mata Escura. This donation is our only source of income and therefore without it we would not be able to continue offering literacy, numeracy, a safe place to learn and play and 3 meals per day to these children, whose community suffers from unreliable and poor standard public education, drug abuse, gang violence, the highest murder rates in the city, a lack of public sanitation and poor quality housing.
On a more specific note, this month we were visited by Brazilian health service workers who provided the children with toothbrushes and taught them how to brush their teeth correctly - many of our children have dental problems which are untreated. Unfortunately the quality of the toothbrushes was dreadful and the majority had broken by the following week - in addition the majority of our children do not have toothpaste at home. Not wishing to lose this positive momentum we decided to invest in toothbrushes and toothpaste for each child to take home in a bid to promote dental health amongst families.
So as you can see, all of your donations have had a fantastic impact, and have all gone to improve the lives of many children.
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