Project location: São Paulo, Brazil
Funding: £30,000
Year / duration: 1999 / 2 Years
Partner: Children at Risk Foundation

In São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, thousands of children live on the streets after running away from failing and abusive families. Street children are marginalised and vulnerable; they are exploited by criminals and to survive get involved in prostitution, drug dealing and robbery. Despite legislation in Brazil protecting the rights of the child, the authorities have done little to protect children and have been accused of brutalising and killing them in unofficial ‘death squads’.

The Children at Risk Foundation (CARF) is based in São Paulo and works to defend the rights of street children in Brazil. CARF works in innovative ways to get children off the streets and living in healthy family based environments. TRAID funding enabled CARF to build and equip the Hummingbird Activity Centre to offer a genuine alternative to children and adolescents living on the streets of São Paulo. The Centre enables up to 12 children every year to leave the streets permanently, eventually being sent to foster families, or where possible, reintegrated into their natural families.

Children benefit from an intensive rehabilitation programme with four social workers. Nearly all street children are drug dependent and detoxification is an important part of the process. Sports, particularly the Brazilian martial art Capoeira, play an important part of the recuperation programme.

The Centre is geared to prepare them to return to ordinary family life with each child settled into foster or natural family care within a year of leaving the streets. Piecing together a child’s family history is important to potentially renew bonds, and to initiate psychological work.

Today, the Centre has expanded and offers a range of cultural activities reaching over 600 at risk children every year.