In 2008 the “Recanto do Sol” – “Sunshine Corner” – Children’s Center was dedicated in Camobi, a district of Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul.
The “Sunshine Corner” is a place where children ages 6-12 are cared for outside of school hours. The children live in the poor bordering neighborhoods and often come from difficult family conditions. They have already experienced much suffering in their short lifetime. The purpose of the center is to preserve them from a life on the streets and to protect them from drugs and acts of violence. The children’s center is dependent on donations and receives no regular aid or state grants.
At the center there is a morning and an afternoon group of 50 students each. Only for lunch are they all there at once. For many children of the second group, the afternoon snack is already their supper, because their parents at home don’t provide it for them. The children receive help with their homework and work daily on a specific project program. They can get involved in various programs according to their wishes and abilities: sports, crafts, music, dance, computers. The courses are led by experienced educators. Psychological and dental care are also provided.
Professional training and continued education for the parents or single mothers or grandmothers are also offered at the center. This is urgently necessary because the parents are often very young. Most of them collect cardboard, paper, and plastic on the street in order to sell these things, because they can’t find a permanent job. There are various topics available for them in these courses, for example, crafts, cooking courses, information about hygiene in the home, pedagogical introduction to the education of children and caring for babies. The knowledge they gain should help the mothers to take better care of their own family and contribute to their livelihood.
It is a joy to observe how the children make progress. Their behavior has visibly changed for the better. The disciplined daily schedule and the healthy nourishment contribute to their ability to learn better. The children are very musical. So in the “Sunshine Corner” dance groups came into being. These groups are even sometimes invited to do little performances in the city, for example, at events for the elderly or for children’s groups. Whenever we have a gathering at the Schoenstatt Center, the children’s dance group is often invited to perform the typical Gaucho dances. This does the children good; they come out of their environment, their poor neighborhood.
Children who have already surpassed the age limit at the “Sunshine Corner” are able to continue taking part in special free time groups with performances. They are very proud, and so are we, because in between they had a normal graduation, are in vocational training, and participate in continuing education courses in the evening. These were the children we first started with at “Sunshine Corner.”
The project came about through the initiative of Sister M. Vitória Koch. She was working in a poor area called “Vila Jardim” in Camobi, and saw the great needs of the families and the dangers for the children on the street. We have kept the project going and plan to extend it to the younger siblings of the children – because the sooner we take the children in, the sooner they are protected from the dangers of the street.
Project ID: Santa Maria, Sonnenwinkel
Mission Center of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary
Berg Schoenstatt 6
Phone: (0261) 6404-311
Beneficiary Bank: LIGA Bank eG
IBAN: DE10 7509 0300 0000 058920
Swift Code/BIC: GENODEF1M05