Strengthening Families in Brazil

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Posted on 7/1/2013

Brazil is a country of contradictions. Despite having the world's seventh-largest economy and serving as host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, more than a quarter of Brazil's population lives in poverty. Food scarcity, a lack of employment opportunities and other challenges can place families under tremendous strain, and this often results in children going without food, education and basic health care. ChildFund has worked in Brazil since 1966, and ensuring children in need have the support, encouragement and resources they need to thrive is one of our most urgent priorities.

Fostering Hope in the Favelas

Many poor Brazilian families live in favelas, large slums that often lack suitable sanitation and other necessities. Conditions in the favelas are challenging, and families struggle for survival every day. With employment opportunities few and far between, desperation sometimes pushes people to crime as a means of survival, which perpetuates the cycle. As their parents struggle to make ends meet, children are often neglected, or worse, sold into sexual exploitation or forced labor as a means of income.

Several of our initiatives have focused on ensuring that children have a supportive home environment. In 13 projects throughout Brazil, we have helped parents, mothers in particular, expand their knowledge of familial support techniques and family competencies, emphasizing child protection and adequate nutrition. In addition, our community outreach programs allow children to voice their feelings and opinions, and have resulted in greater participation in social activities after school, as well as empowerment for teachers and parents.

Hearing the Voices of Youth

One way to tackle crime and other pervasive social problems is community engagement. That's why last year, ChildFund operated 11 projects to encourage Brazilian youth to become actively involved with their communities and have their voices heard. In time, this can help build stronger communities, beginning with families.

Promoting a culture of peace is one of our primary goals in Brazil, but it is also one of our biggest challenges. The greatest fear of about 25 percent of Brazilian children is family violence, according to research by ChildFund Brazil, and although our "Me, You and Peace: A Covenant We Make" project has been embraced enthusiastically by many families, it will take time to reverse the culture of violence and negligence that has plagued the poorest parts of Brazil for generations. To help a vulnerable child in Brazil, please consider becoming a child sponsor. Your support will make a world of difference.