Compassion International in Brazil

By MeLissa LeFleur

A group from traveled to Brazil to see Compassion International's work in the area. Here is one perspective...

The street appeared like a normal street in Fortaleza, Brazil — coral, blue, and green colored houses, topped with terracotta tiles. They were all small houses, about the size of my master bathroom back home. The street was quiet. A guy, teetering on the top of an old ladder, was fixing something on the top of a roof. Otherwise, everything was still.

The quietness was deceptive though. This street is known for gang violence, killing, drug addiction, and sex trafficking. Behind those dark windows sit gang members waiting for their next fight, lustful old men lying in wait for a little girl to walk by, thieves anticipating their next mugging. At this hour, many were still sleeping off last night's activities.

We were instructed to not carry anything with us — no cameras, phones, bags, or valuables. "Lay low and don't draw attention to yourself as you walk through the street." We weren't even allowed to take groceries to the family.

As we ducked into one of the houses to visit the children who called it home, my eyes caught a chubby 3-year-old girl dressed only in panties. I scooped her up, perched her on my hip, and followed our team into the house. Her brother was lounging with a small dog on the only chair in the home. Another little girl stood near the mom who was explaining...
All the neighborhood kids used to play in the streets. Now, they aren't allowed to leave the house. A guy was murdered just outside our house a few days ago. Crack addicts shoot up. Children are raped. There are only two places they can play — inside the house or in the Compassion Center at the church. The gangs understand that the center is off limits, so the kids are safe there.
The Compassion Center just down the street is literally a sanctuary from the evil. The gated entry marks the boundary where evil stops and protection begins. Children play inside without worry. Tables are lined with craft projects and songs about Jesus flow from the classrooms. The teachers train the kids on how to spot predators and stay safe in their neighborhood. They share the love of Jesus with each child.

Recognizing that poverty is more than a lack of money, Compassion works to holistically address the individual physical, economic, educational and spiritual needs of children — enabling them to thrive, not just survive in their current situation.

This Compassion Center expands the circle of adults who are looking out for each child's best interest. They are an advocate for the child's safety and serve as a consistent source of support.

At the center, the children are encouraged to dream of the future, have goals, receive an education, and understand how to stay safe in their community. Each child has a sponsor in another country whose support provides food and clean water, medical care, educational opportunities, training in life skills, and the opportunity to develop a lifelong relationship with God. The child understands that she can have dreams and goals for the future! If you're not sponsoring a child, please do so!

My dream is that one day soon, this neighborhood will be transformed! May children fill the streets of this community once again. May laughter echo off the houses. May the next Brazilian soccer star practice without fear. May little girls play without worry.

Until then, the Compassion Center will remain a sanctuary — a place of refuge and safety.

Learn more here

Images courtesy of MeLissa LeFleur

TagsCurrent-Issues  | Hardships  | Ministry-Church  | Sin-Evil

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Published 3-18-15