My name is Joshua Niederman. I am an In the Field intern visiting GlobalGiving partner organizations in Brazil. Read here about my recent visit to "Change Lives Of 100 High Risk Teen Mums In Brazil"
Associação de Apoio as Meninas e Meninos de Sé has been developing programs that foster the empowerment and social inclusion of children in São Paulo, Brazil for over 20 years. Surrounding the beautiful Catedral da Sé in the heart of the city, is an extremely poor area that suffers from the affects of drug-dealing, violence, and prostitution.
Evaraldo Santos Oliveira founded the association here to protect young children from street violence, however the organization’s role has expanded to assist pregnant girls and teen mothers. This unique program teaches girls about reproductive health, human rights, women’s rights and conflict resolution. The program also offers legal and social assistance, and guidance to obtain a formal education and employment.
Evaraldo and his team of psychologists and social workers have a keen feel for the streets and the families that live there - “familias da rua.” As he states, “you have to know the groups, because if the street brother or sister doesn’t go to the center, the child will not go either.”
I found evidence of this when I sat in on a class for pregnant girls. Two of the girls were first cousins. The elder sister of one of the girls had previously attended the program. Vitoria, a psychologist, stood before the girls and led a discussion about a film that they had seen about a women who was sexually abused and reached her own freedom. The girls discussed how Kiranjit Ahluwalia, the Punjabi woman in the film, had become free, what it meant to be free, and what her rights were in society.
After the class, I sat down with the two cousins. I asked them to tell me one thing that they had learned since coming to the center. One of the girls said that she had learned that women have the same rights as men. “What do you mean?,” I asked. She said that before she had always thought that because men worked, they had more rights than women. But after attending classes at the center, she had learned that she had the same rights as men. The cousin stated that she had learned how to properly feed her newborn baby when he or she is born. This is critically important. According to Vitoria, many babies are fed crackers or breadcrumbs and lack the proper nutrients to live healthy and productive lives.
Vitoria represents a role model for these girls. They learn from the class, but they also see in Vitoria that, as Afro-Brazilian women from poor backgrounds, they too can obtain an education, earn a living and help other women in their community. The sense of solidarity of the women in the group was strong. The association provides a support group for these girls at an extremely trying time in their lives.
“We help the most needy of society,” said Evaraldo, “those that other organizations leave for want, in an area that is totally neglected by the state and society.”
Your support on GlobalGiving for this educational program for girls in São Paulo helps break the cycle of teen pregnancy, poverty, drug abuse and domestic and sexual abuse.