Family and a Sister standing in front of a crude shack

Brazil has one of the most unequal economies in the world with extreme poverty affecting families throughout the country.

The children who come to us from these families routinely suffer neglect, malnutrition, disease and the long-term effects of abuse.

Families are large and fragmented. Manual labour is common for children and often from a very young age.  Early marriage is a shadow facing many young girls (some as young as 12) and crimes related to drug abuse and drug trafficking are common and put the lives of these children in constant danger.

The rural communities in the North East of the country are most affected. Here the Sisters find that many children are suffering from malnutrition. Where early education is available it is of very poor quality. Non-attendance at school is widespread for poor children due to lack of access. Throughout the pandemic the majority of Brazilian schools remained closed, depriving most children of intellectual development, safety and vital school support and nutrition.

New students in a hall enrolling while wearing masks
New children being welcomed into a place at school in Brasilia, 2021

The Covid 19 pandemic has exposed Brazil to unprecedented health and economic difficulties.

The most impoverished families in the Brazilian communities have been the most significantly affected by the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic. As lockdowns and curfews have impacted on companies and informal jobs have been cut, the poorest families who relied on income from these employments have suffered, falling further into poverty.

The Sisters of Mary school programmes in Brazil provide new hope for the children of these communities. With the support of our friends and donors the Sisters are able to run two programmes in Brazil. The secondary school for girls in Brasilia and an elementary school and day care facility for younger children in São Paulo.

 

Children in class at our Kindergarten

Throughout the pandemic the Girlstown school in Brasilia remained open

With over 800 children in our care, the support of our donors and the dedication of the Sisters ensured that the girls remained safe, well and properly nourished.

The day care programme in Brasilia and the day care and elementary programmes in São Paulo closed for a period during the year due to the pandemic. During this time some teaching was provided virtually to children who had internet access but for those many who did not, lesson plans and homework packs were provided either for family to collect from the school or via contact persons (school graduates) in the community.  Food parcels were also provided to these families where funds permitted.

By mid 2021 all these programmes were back and teaching normally on a socially distanced basis and able to welcome new children into their care providing these most vulnerable children with vital regular nutrition, early stimulation and a safe place to grow and learn.