At the onset of the project we had the financial and moral support of a local São Paulo businessman, Paulo Mendonça, who served as our first vice president of the AB Care association. His monthly contribution allowed ABCare to furnish 40 basic food baskets per month for the neediest families. These food baskets contain all the basic food items such as: milk, oil, rice, beans, sugar, coffee, etc.
Besides food and milk, we purchased school materials for the children, and books to help illiterate adults learn to read or write, as well as paying for a teacher to teach them. We provided basic pregnancy & birth needs for new mothers. We provided dental care for the children. During this time, we also had a weekly Bible study group for interested adults, in which we mainly focused on moral & character development based on the Christian ethics of giving to & helping one another in overcoming the obvious difficulties that slum life presents. Similar activities were also organized for the children in the favela.
We were able to purchase a kombi van in order to pick up fruit & vegetable donations at the huge Sao Paulo market each week. This provided usually 1 ton of fresh produce weekly. Many other donations of food, clothing, building materials, medicines, etc. were also garnered & distributed.
Unfortunately, Brazil experienced a crippling financial crisis, and the lack of local support forced us to cut back on some of our services. One highlight of this time was that in July 2001, the Discovery Channel contacted us via our web site, then came to the slum, filmed it and interviewed John in a report they were doing on the history of childbirth.
In mid 2003, some young Christian workers came to our rescue and took up the torch, adding volunteer help to our KM 21 slum project. Their participation brought this nearly dormant project back to life! During this time project efforts were concentrated in the area of character development & moral & social training for the slum children. The resident children were divided into 3 age groups & a curriculum was developed for each group. Volunteers were scheduled to participate on a rotating basis for each weeks´ activities.
Through this consistent input many of these slum children began changing for the better. The older group of young people ages 11 – 15 have made much progress, as the project workers took great interest in their individual lives, counseling them and helping them through the many serious hardships of teens growing up in the slum.
At the end of 2003, US businessman David Catania, somewhat miraculously appeared on the scene, traveling here from the States to purchase a basic food basket for each of the resident families. He was able to personally participate in the distribution & was very touched, seeing the misery first hand, in which these poor people live. He noted that even the animals in the local zoo have better living conditions than most of these poor slum dwellers.
In early 2004 the president of the local City Council approved the weekly use of the local community center. Use of this facility has proved to be fundamental, as before this we were conducting our activities with the children in an alleyway.
Since then 7 other missionaries have volunteered to participate regularly in the project, so that today our total volunteer force is approaching 30 members, which enables us to adequately cover all current bases each week with the volunteers taking turns on a rotating basis.
Besides the current moral education, citizenship & character formation program that we have rolling for the slum children, the next steps include:
- Organizing regular health care, especially for children. This would include dental & eye care & weight monitoring.
- Establishing a monthly bazaar to sell donated items. The purpose would be to distribute donated items in a manner that would be fairer to all (each one paying a few cents per item) & this would also help people to value things more.
- Close an open sewage canal that is still creating a tremendous health hazard in the area. (See right)
- Housing development program to replace current wooden shacks with decent blockhouses. A local architect is currently designing a simple, small house that can serve as a model. We can raise funds for this house & then build them one by one. We already have an organized united work force of slum dwellers so that we don’t have to pay for the labor. All we need is the building materials.
- Establish a “supporting members” program for people who cannot give time but could & would be willing to help with a little donation each month.
These are just some of the challenges we have before us to help make this part of the world a better, safer and happier place. Would you like to help us in this endeavor? Do you feel that tug on your heart to help these needy children and their families? If you would like to help, or would like to know more about us, please contact us.
- $15 provides a basic basket containing staples to feed a small family for a month.
- $100 provides all the materials needed to conduct weekly activities for a young children's group for a month.
- $1,000 provides the AB Care team with administrative expenses for a month.
- $2,000 builds a simple, quality house for a poor family who currently live in a cardboard shack.
- $15,000 provides a desperately needed gently used van to transport children to outside activities, pick up donations of goods, etc.
- $100,000 can build a complete rescue center where we can set up a deposit, office facilities, classrooms, computer lab, dental & eye care facilities, etc. (We already have ideal sites chosen where two such centers could be constructed.)