A nun and three women stand in front of a basic shack
Alice, second from the right, stands in front of her house with her family and Sister Fernanda

Early life

Alice is 12 years old, from the state of Maranhão, Brazil. Her mother abandoned her and her five siblings when Alice was six years old. Alice’s father remarried and Alice’s stepmother cares for her and her siblings as best she can. Alice’s father works as a herdsman and is illiterate, so he cannot help Alice and her siblings with their schooling.

Alice has struggled through primary school, her broken family life has deeply affected her and led to behavioural issues at her primary school and at home with her father.

At home, Alice would spend her mornings helping her father and stepmother, and would only be able to go to school in the afternoons. After a long bus ride to school, Alice would attend classes from 1pm to 5pm, sometimes only arriving home again at 9pm on days when the bus broke down. The quality of the education in her public school was poor and the teachers did not have good qualifications or skills to teach. Alice found the Sisters of Mary school when she researched secondary schools on the internet at her school.

a girl sits in a blue and white uniform at her desk, looking down at her textbook in Brasilia Girlstown, Brazil
Alice sits in class at Brasilia Girlstown

Life at school

Desperate for a chance to attend the Sisters of Mary School in Brasilia, Alice got her father’s permission to go to meet the Sisters when they visited Maranhão.

After meeting with the Sisters, and having Sister Fernanda visit her home, Alice was offered a place in Brasilia Girlstown.

Alice excitedly prepared for the long trip to Brasilia to start school with the Sisters in January 2023. The adjustment to the structure of the school has been a challenge and although Alice misses her family, she is settling in to the school routine and learning well. She says that she is grateful for the Sisters’ patience with her and that she is learning to have a different attitude at school.

Now that Alice has a safe, secure place to live and grow, with regular meals and a good learning environment, she is dreaming of becoming a vet.

The safety and stability that the school offers Alice and thousands of children like her means that they are able to learn without the worry of long, treacherous journeys to school, if they have enough money to get there or enough food to eat. Crucially, they do not have to worry about caring for their families, and can focus on their studies, which in the long term will help them transform their families’ lives.