Brazil

Source: Annual Report 2013
Source: Annual Report 2013

The Brazil strategy of the Bernard van Leer Foundation focuses on approximately half a million children in three specific geographic areas. The overall theme is to ensure that all children in Brazil have equal opportunities and are protected, including those growing up in favelas and the Amazon. Our two goals in Brazil are:

Quality home visiting programmes for rural children under 3 living in the state of Amazonas.

Amazonas has a population of 3.3 million people, of whom 136,000 are under 3. 74,000 of these children live outside of the capital Manaus, and are spread across a physical area larger than Peru. They fare substantially worse than the national average on most social indicators: 40% do not have access to piped water; 72% of pregnant women have less than 6 ante-natal visits from healthcare professionals; one in four do not have birth registration; 30% of 4 to 6 years old do not go to pre-school; and 95% of 0 to 3 year olds do not go to nursery school.

Reduce violence in the lives of young children growing up in favelas in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Recife.

Rio de Janeiro is the city with the largest number of homicides per year in Brazil (2,333 in 2010). Recife is the city with the highest per capita homicide rate in Brazil (90/100,000). Most of the violence occurs in the 1,000 favelas, which are home to around 227,000 children 0 to 8 in Rio, and 97,000 in Recife. In addition, these children also experience high levels of violence within their homes. The combination of these two types of violence (in the community and in the home) has extraordinary impacts on children’s brain development, learning potential, health and future adult behaviour.

Breaking the cycle of violence: a human story

Associação Brasileira Terra dos Homens (ABTH) is among the partners we are funding in Brazil to break the intergenerational cycle of violence. The story of Christiane illustrates how this happens.

Christiane, 33 years old, is a single mother of three children. Her biological mother died in childbirth, and her adoptive mother was constantly violent. She left home at a young age and met the father of her children, who struggled with drug addiction during their time together. Eventually, when she was pregnant with her third child, he refused to participate in a rehabilitation programme and she left him.

Christiane’s oldest son looks a lot like her ex-husband. She believes that projecting her anger onto him explains why she physically abused him. As he grew up he, in turn, started to behave aggressively towards those around him.

ABTH’s professionals made a work plan with Christiane and her family, who were surviving on charitable handouts from a variety of community organisations. They identified the family’s needs and desires and made sure that everyone committed themselves to achieving change. They provided Christiane with a budget to cover the family’s needs, enrolled her second child in a local community nursery school, and began psychological care treatment with her oldest son. After 3 years, Christiane now works with the project, looking after little children.

Christiane has made progress. When a teacher at her oldest son’s school was aggressive with him, she responded calmly by requesting a discussion rather than lashing out. And during a project activity for parents and children she found that she was able for the first time to relate to her son not through violence, but through affection and play.

Programme strategy

See the summary of our Brazil strategy (pdf) for an outline of how we are approaching these two goals (also available to download are two-page handouts in English or Spanish).

Feedback

Do you have comments on our goals in Brazil? Please contact our Programme Officer for Brazil, Leonardo Yanez: leonardo.yanez@bvleerf.nl

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