Volunteers and staff in Brazil recently took part in a three day challenge to help raise funds to support the project. Read on to hear an account from the challenge by GVI Latin America Project Director Dom Williams:
‘After three days hiking trail, rappelling, canyon scrambling and swimming, swollen river crossings, soaked tents, ants and Pedrock (one of our amazing guides, hewn from the Chapada Diamantina itself - for sure!) our ten challengers reached our goal, Cachoeira (waterfall) Fumaça, the tallest waterfall in Brazil, at 392m. After a 7 hour bus ride to Lencois, we trekked out early a few hours to reach our first goal, the incredible Cachoeira do Capivari, where we donned harnesses to rapell the 45m waterfall. From here, we headed on up to the first campsite next to the river, preparing ourselves for day two, when we river canyon hiked, boulder hopped and swam up kms to reach the amazing Cachoeira de Mixila, which has only been open to visitors for 4 years. More hiking to our second campsite at dusk, where rain swelled the Rio Capivari a metre higher overnight and we had to cross in the early hours to continue our trek towards Fumaça. The terrain all the way was quite stunning, and the majority of the trail no more than an upward goat track, up and over canyons, to reach our goal. Fumaça is one of those views that a photo cannot do justice. we trekked around to the top of it at an incredible 392m high, peering over the ledge straight down into the deep valley below. After three days hard trekking and adventure, the goal was worth each one of those 392 metres!
Many thanks to the challengers, the guides and to all of you who have donated to help raise funds for our school in Mata Escura. With funds raised so far our teachers wages are secured, as well as our food program, for a few more months!’
After a week of tropical rainstorms damaged the work on the classroom walls at the project in Mata Escura, Brazil, children set about creating some new artwork to brighten up the school. GVI volunteers brought in 4 huge drawings with `Under the Sea`, `Outer Space`, `Amazon Jungle` and ´Salvador City Centre` themes, which we cut into squares to allow each of the children to paint a section. Silence descended over the classroom as the kids worked in deep concentration to create beautiful results. Particularly impressive were Kelly and Karina, both aged only 3 years and 9 months but already showing artistic talent - they helped create the Under the Sea mural pictured.
On Saturday volunteers on the project took the kids to a Christmas party thrown by the local council in Salvador’s Parque da Cidade. With free Christmas t-shirts and Santa hats our festive band of mini Father Christmases enjoyed a picnic on the grass, jumped on the trampolines, played in the park’s model fort and danced all morning to live music. The day was topped off by a visit to see Father Christmas in his grotto and a present!Volunteers and kids then took the bus back to the school in Mata Escura, we got stuck in Salvador’s Christmas shopping traffic, however by that time everyone on the bus (kids and volunteers!) were fast asleep......proof of a great day out!
The school in Mata Escura, Creche Sonho Vovo Clara, has been welcoming more and more students each week since we started our support in early June. The school had previously suffered from underfunding, understaffing, poor facilities and a lack of educational direction and this had negatively affected its reputation in the local community.
With the help of GVI volunteers we have set about changing all of this, refurbishing and painting the classrooms, creating a new outside play area, employing local staff and of course bringing a huge range of educational activities to the school. The number of new children enrolling clearly demonstrates how perceptions are changing, however last week we saw proof of how drastically the image has changed.
2 mothers arrived at the school with their children and asked to have a look around, they were hugely impressed by the work they saw going on in the classrooms and the fully revamped facilities. They explained to project intern Paula how they had considered sending their children to the school the year before but had been told locally that it had a bad reputation and instead chose to stretch their very limited finances and send their children to the local fee paying school.
They told us that recently they had heard that everything was changing at Sonho Vovo Clara – they had made a detour to have a look one morning and saw the volunteers welcoming the children with big hugs. They also commented on how impressed they were to see the children leaving in the afternoon carrying art and craft projects.
They decided to enroll their children on the spot and they started on Monday – great evidence of how the hard work of GVI volunteers has overhauled this school in only 3 months and is now providing an invaluable resource for the local community in Mata Escura.
In the community Mata Escura we have welcomed Anderson to the school we are supporting. Anderson is 10 yrs old and has learning disabilities. This will be his first ever experience in a classroom and around other children his age but he is absolutely thriving and can't wait to start learning! He is very gentle and thoughtful and loves arts and crafts, his favorite activity so far has been making and decorating a sailor’s hat with volunteers on the project. He is a genuine ray of sunshine in the school, always smiling. He also loves to help give out the morning fruit to the other children – he told us this morning that watermelon days are his favorite - as he was eating his 3rd slice!
Through this project we can give children like Anderson the opportunity to learn, develop and enjoy their childhood.
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