Students at Educandário Creche Comunitária Sonho da Vovó Clara (ECCSCV) – an independent, community school offering free of charge education and food to the children of Mata Escura in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil –broke up in early February for the most important holiday of the year in Brazil; Carnaval! The Carnaval celebrations in Salvador are the largest in the country –over 600,000 tourists visit each year for the week-long festival. School is closed during Carnaval week, a public holiday, during which time many people travel back to visit family in Bahia state’s rural interior. For other families Carnaval offers a much-needed opportunity to earn some money. Small enterprises spring up all over the beachfront district during this period, and a very large number of the city’s children earn money that week selling drinks, snacks and souvenirs and finding parking spaces for drivers. 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 side.
Whilst the school was closed our teacher Andrea worked tirelessly to refresh the classrooms for the new academic year. Fabulous new signs and posters have gone up on the walls, really brightening up the classrooms and reinforcing some of our core values and the wall of our classroom for older students, which now features a quote from Nelson Mandela – ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’ – maintaining our older students’ focus on learning and helping to protect them from the city’s gang violence is a huge part of our work, this was a great choice of quote by Andrea.
A lot of the other work in the school has been designed to make the classrooms as welcoming as possible for the new academic year. Students returned to lessons at the end of February and we were so delighted to welcome an entire class of new young faces – something only made possible by your donations. The ‘Rutina’ (routine) for each school day: ‘Acolhida’ (welcome & roll call), ‘Rodinha’ (sitting in a circle and talking/singing as a group), ‘Café’ (breakfast), ‘Atividades’ (lessons), ‘Recreação’ (Outdoor play or games/reading), ‘Higiene’ (Children have access to shower and brush their teeth), ‘Almoçar’ (Lunch), ‘Descansar’ (Afternoon nap – important as many children have disturbed sleep patterns at home), ‘Despertar’ (Wake up – activities and exercises to wake everyone up) ‘Lanche’ (Afternoon snack), ‘Musica’ (songs and music to finish the day) and finally ‘Saida’ (home time). Setting up a clear structure for the day has really benefited our students and improved concentration levels. School runs from 7:30am till 4:30pm, helping parents and carers to go to work. Our extra intake of students now means we have 5 classes running – with teachers Andrea, Ana, Dora, Nilza and Ivone.
Andrea and the other school teachers have been putting together a fantastic school library twith story and picture books for the young students and factual texts to help the older kids with their homework and college studies. The library has already proved very popular, we’ve even seen children choose story time in the library over football at break time! All the books have been collected as donations and some are not in great condition – we would love to continue growing this fabulous resource.
Our school staff also worked together over the holidays to deep clean and repair the kitchen facilities. Our school cooks work tirelessly every day to provide breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack to our students and as you can imagine the kitchen takes quite a pounding! It was great to have this opportunity to smarten things up ready for the new term.
Thank you for reading this update and for your continued support, which makes our work possible.