We thought we’d start this report by sharing some of the school’s history and the story of how it came to be established in Mata Escura. The Educandário Creche Comunitária Sonho da Vovó Clara (ECCSVC) or Grandmother Clara’s Dream 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 Clara´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.´
Back in the present day, 2014 has been a big year for the school. As a result of Salvador’s status as a football World Cup host city the area witnessed a large amount of migration. Lots of new little faces have arrived at the school and there are more names on the waiting list for a place in 2015 than ever before. With the donations we have been so fortunate to attract recently we are now considering a renovation project – this will involve repairing the roof and windows of an already existing annex building to create a new classroom. This will enable us to open our doors to more children and ensure that students are effectively split into age groups for better learning. The best opportunity for the renovation work will be during the Christmas/New Year holiday so hopefully we will be seeing some great changes very soon.
Of course a new classroom will mean that we require more teaching staff and we will also shortly begin discussing this with the local school team. We are excited at the prospect of being able to expand and offer employment to another local teacher.
In our last report we mentioned that our fantastic teacher Andrea was unwell and was recuperating after surgery. The great news is that Andrea has made a full recovery and is now back at work. The kids missed her so much and we are all so relieved that she is back at the helm in the school.
Whilst Andrea has been recovering we have to give a special mention to our older students, Geisa and Francielle, who have been an invaluable help to our school staff looking after the youngest children. Geisa and Francielle have shown incredible kindness towards the little ones, helping them to eat their food and soothing them to sleep at nap time.
One of the first things that Andrea has worked on with the children since returning to work is a Weather and Seasons project. In the attached pictures you will see some of the work the children have produced. This has been a great project for the kids to understand the changing of the seasons as Brazil moves from the rainy season into the summer.
In mid-November Brazil will celebrate Children’s Day and our students are invited to a city-wide picnic in the park, organised by the local education department. The government offer very little support for education and childcare in the favelas, so whilst it may only be a gesture, it is a great opportunity for our students to enjoy a day out and is always a cause of huge excitement.
Thank you for continuing to support this project.
All the best