Good News for Poor Families in Brazil
In the North of Brazil we celebrate everything with fireworks! We are celebrating five years of ministry here in the Flowers Estate through the Creative Hands project.
The most common question I am asked is why we came to work at the Flowers Estate, around eight years ago, when Bete and I were still working with street children. One of the children we got to know was from the Flowers Estate and the practice was to contact any family members of the child on the street, in the hope they could go back home. When we arrived in the area the misery and poverty were very evident. We stopped to talk to a lady who had a child in her arms who told us her daughter was very sick and the hospital had turned her away. The little girl was too weak even to lift her head. I asked the mother if I could take her daughter home with me and would give her back after she got better, so she handed the child over and I took her home. It did not take long to realise the biggest problem was intestinal worms and malnutrition. Within a week she was already sitting up and smiling. Once she started walking I took her back to her mother who was very happy to see her daughter again. That was the last time I went to that area, but the images of what I had seen stayed with me.
When Bete and I were looking to start a new ministry, the images that I had seen a few years earlier were still with me, so we went back to see if the Flowers Estate had changed. Again it was a shock to see the squalor that the people were living in. We walked around and soon saw the rubbish dump where the community earn a living by searching through the rubbish and selling anything that could be recycled. There were many children on the dump who, as we approached, hid from us. Lt was very hard to believe that what we were seeing was really happening. We saw children eating things they found in the rubbish. The food for the family came from the dump - rotting meat, chicken or anything else they could find - and the vultures and stray dogs were in competition for the pickings.
From that first day we decided that this is where we should start a ministry. Five years later we celebrate with fireworks what the Lord has been doing in the Flowers Estate. "The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern" Proverbs 29:7.
We discovered that funds had been made available for the community of the Flowers Estate but had not got to them. The Justice Department became involved and, fortunately for us, the person in charge had a lot of courage and wanted to get to the bottom of what had happened to the funds. A number of public hearings were held in our building and the people came to air their grievances. Everything was recorded and filmed. The people came because they trusted us, but were fearful of repercussions. Repercussions did occur, but good ones. A building now stands on the dump where the workers can work without being in the hot sun and heavy rain. They have formed a cooperative and receive a salary from the Mayor; they also receive the money from the sale of the recycled materials. For me the biggest blessing was to see that children are no longer working on the dump. Most people who work on the dump cannot read or write and didn't see the need to send their children to school. We have spent many hours explaining to the parents how important it is for their children to be in school and have helped individual children get into school. Kathleen and Raquel started a preschool to help children who we knew would otherwise never have a chance in the school system. I must admit the biggest incentive for sending their children to school was when we offered to help the parents apply for the government grant offered to low income families who have children in school. Our team is small and a great deal of our time is spent with the hundreds of children that live in our area, many of these children have come to know the Lord and show concern about family members who need the Lord. The children are taking home what they are learning about the Lord. One mother was touched when her daughter ran into her arms and told her 'l love you and so does Jesus'. The children tell their parents, word for word, the stories they are learning from the Bible. They are making a difference in their homes.
We have set off a lot of fire works and hope to set off a lot more!
"Every good thing we have in Christ."