ProVIDA

Overview of the SAM projects for Street Children in Belém

Approximately one point five million people live in the city of Belém – about half are children and adolescents. Many families come from the interior to the city and it is common for them to end up in the slums living in a small shack (often measuring no more than 12 ft. by 12 ft). Poor education, high unemployment, and a suffocating poverty result in prostitution (half of the prostitutes in Belém are under 16 years of age), sexual abuse, physical violence and crime. Many children go on the streets. One study in Belém reported three thousand five hundred children on the streets of Belém, of those 77% were male.

Swiss Alliance Mission has launched a project named Pró VIDA. Pró VIDA includes individual Brazilian partners and maintains open communication with the authorities with a view to cooperation and partnerships when possible. The acronym VIDA represents the project’s values and goals as directed to supply the needs of these “at risk” youth:

V - Value – We want to show these “at risk” children and youth that they are very valuable to God and to us and to encourage them to break out of the  vicious cycle of the street.

I - Integration – We want to provide them with the opportunity to reintegrate into society.

D - Dignity – We want to restore their dignity, because observing the children and youth in the slums, it is obvious that they have precious little dignity left.

A - Autonomy – The goal is that these children and adolescents will eventually achieve independence and healthy integration into society.

To reach these goals, Pró VIDA is launching four subprojects:

1. Prevention (Work with children)

We want to reach and help children before they arrive on the street.  After they’ve been seduced and addicted to street life it is much more difficult to get them off the street.

In ten well known slums of greater Belém, we want to establish at least one children’s club in each slum.  These clubs will have programs and activities (involving games, sports and scholastic reinforcement) for the times the children are not in school.  All these activities will have Brazilian leadership and will partner with local churches.  Thus we hope to reduce the number of children going to the streets.  Beginning in 2004 we want to partner with the local churches in establishing two kindergartens annually in the slums.  These kindergartens would prepare the children for reading, keep them off the streets as well as establish contact between their families and the churches.

2. Family follow up

One common cause of children leaving their homes is the poor relationship between the children and their parents.  These situations often become intolerable for the children.  Consequently, we want to come alongside existing ministries and offer effective help to these families.

Annually, we want to help a minimum of ten “street” families (and/or neighbours) to establish a social and economic base (resocialization, a small house, occupational training, developing an income source, etc.).  We will offer frequent instruction to interested families (individually or in groups) in health, hygiene, AIDS, family planning, family and marital relationships and discipleship.

3. Street children/prisons for miners

Presently, a large number of children and adolescents cycle from the street to the prisons or government shelters and back. We want to help them break this vicious cycle. To win the confidence of the street children a specialized group will make weekly visits to these children on the streets.  Relationships will be developed and preparation made for rehabilitation.  For all the children wanting to leave the street all practical effort will be made to provide an adequate place (family or recuperation center) to receive them.

Additionally, a network of 20 families will be developed to provide foster care for the children at risk in the 0 to 11 year old age bracket.  (Recuperation center – see number four)

In all the juvenile prisons, a specialized group will be promoting a program for those interested that will help them break out of their defeatist lifestyle.  Once released from prison they will have opportunity to go to a recuperation center, home, occupational training/job, all with respective follow up.

4. Recuperation center Girassol (Sunflower)

We want to develop a project with specific objectives directed primarily toward “at risk”  male children and adolescents .  “Girassol”, a recuperation center, is a practical step in the challenging process of bringing these youths from the street and offering them a home and a transformed life.

We want to build, in cooperation with Brazilians, a recuperation center to house at least 10 boys from the ages of 5 to 11 years, and a second center for adolescents from the ages of 12 to 18 years. The adolescent center would have 3 houses - each to house a maximum of 10 boys.

We also want to create ten employment opportunities (for example making wooden toys or a construction team to build houses for the needy families of the Family follow up subproject).  We also plan to intermediate and promote 10 short term occupational courses annually. We would like to develop good relationships with local businessmen who can provide employment.

Phases of the Residential Program:

Phase 1 – This is the phase of DETOXIFICATION, ADAPTATION TO THE PROGRAM and VALUES DEVELOPMENT. In this phase the resident receives: instruction in reading and writing; occupational therapy; recreation; medical assistance; psychological assistance; social assistance and bible study.

Phase 2 – This is the phase of MATURATION and development.  The resident is expected to be adjusted to .the program and to be showing observable changes in his social behaviour and self discipline

Phase 3 – This is the phase of CONSOLIDATION and PROFISSIONALIZATION.  Here begins the most important phase of the recuperation process, when the emphasis shifts to a vision toward the future in areas such as discipline, job skills, initiative and leadership.

Reconciliation with Family:

It is important to note the parallel and important process with each resident’s family.  The family receives counselling and assistance with the goal of reintegration (whenever possible) of the recuperated family member.

Contact Address:

Jürg Pfister
Project director

Schweizer Allianz Mission
Wolfensbergstr. 47,
CH-8400 Winterthur
Switzerland

Tel: +41 52 269 04 69 Fax: +41 52 269 04 65

Associação Pró VIDA

Rua Ramal do Grupo n° 24, Uriboca
67.2000-000 Marituba / PA
Brazil

Tel: +55 91 3245 6754
 

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