The following account tells the story of a family that, during its time in Saúde Criança, strove, with much perseverance and commitment, to reach the targets set for in their Family Action Plan. Saúde Criança provided services to Andréa Mendes, her husband, and their three children in the five areas covered by the program: health, income generation, citizenship, education, and housing. Beyond a verifiable improvement in the well being and structure of the family, the story of the Marques da Silva family provides us with yet another example of growth amongst the many witnessed by daily by the staff of Saúde Criança.
Childs’s Name: Vitória Marques da Silva Date of Birth: 11/08/2004
Guardian: Andrea Mendes da Silva
In November 2004, Andrea arrived at Saúde Criança referred by doctors from Hospital da Lagoa. Her daughter, Vitória, was hospitalized in the hospital’s intensive care unit with a serious infection. Doctors diagnosed her with chronic encephalopathy. Andrea was going through the worst moment of her life when she got to Saúde Criança: unemployed and with two other children to raise. Despite counting with her husband, who worked and earned a salary, the family did not have enough resources to pay for the most basic aspects of their child’s treatment. Moreover, because Andrea had to take care of Vitória, her two other children would remain home unattended, a situation that put them at social risk given the conditions of their neighborhood. The family’s house was in terrible condition, which aggravated Vitória’s health problems. For all these reasons and symptoms of misery, Andrea joined Saúde Criança in a very fragile situation and with a low self-esteem.
Firstly, ASC provided Andrea and her family with all the basic needs for Vitórias treatment: a wheelchair, medicines, milk, and staples. Next, Andrea’s house was refurbished so Vitória and the rest of the family could live with more dignity. A stronger Andrea under treatment with ASC’s psychologist enrolled in the hairdressing, manicure, and breading courses offered at Saúde Criança. With the confidence her knowledge transmitted her and with a heightened self-esteem, Andrea started to make her own money and eventually transformed the porch of her house into a beauty salon with wash basins on other instruments donated by ASC.
Ultimately, the family became strong enough to be discharged from Saúde Criança and stand on its own two feet. Right at this point, however, Andres’s oldest son, who was 17, died. His 12-year old brother Matheus, was greatly affected. Andrea’s life turned upside down and, in face of this tragedy, we decided to maintain this family in the program. During this period, Matheus joined Saude Criança’s project for adolescents, the mother continued to receive psychological support, and Vitória entered school. When she’s not taking care of her children, Andrea works in the beauty area. The family is purchasing a house in the plot of land where they currently live. Their goal is to increase the size of the beauty salon in order to increase their income. Despite the many obstacles it has encountered, this family remains united and strong, both from the psychological and socio-economic point of view. Andrea, mother of Vitoria, upon joining Saúde Criança, and at her graduation from the professionalizing courses, at the end of her period at Saúde Criança.
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Rio de Janeiro,
Rio de Janeiro,