Providing Refuges for Brazil's Street Children

Catholic Charity Aiming for 20 Shelter Homes

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NEW YORK, DEC. 2, 2004 ( Benefactors have the chance to play St. Nick this Christmas by helping to fund one of 20 shelter homes for Brazilian children.

«Not only will these villages keep kids off the streets in the first place,» said Ken Davison, director of Catholic World Mission, «they’ll reach out to children who already live on the streets, especially girls who are pregnant or have babies as a result of what they believed they had to do to eat.»

Catholic World Mission, a Connecticut-based charity, plans to found a Communidade Mão Amiga (Helping Hand Community) in six of Brazil’s largest cities.

The communities, which will feature various facilities, will provide shelter for young pregnant street girls and their children, and abandoned children who live on the street or in orphanages.

The facilities will include a nursery, a day-care center and a Catholic World Mission Mão Amiga school.

The facilities in each Communidade Mão Amiga will include an Our Lady of Guadalupe Home shelter for at-risk children; a maternity safe house, Casa Mama Rosa, for pregnant street girls; a Catholic World Mission Mão Amiga school; and a Centro Catarina (Katie Center), which will serve as a community center for children and young adults.

Already, five girls, ages 5 and under, have been given shelter and the promise of future education. Formerly, they were living in a state-run orphanage and suffered from a host of maladies when they were rescued.

Catholic World Mission is seeking donors to participate in an incentive matching program to generate funds for the facilities.

A key benefactor, Dr. Nicholas Perricone of Meriden, Connecticut, has already paid for the five girls’ boarding and education and has pledged to give $2 for every $1 donated by others, until he has given $1 million.

«This wonderful man gave us the groundbreaking gift we needed to take five little girls off the street and begin building Communidade Mão Amiga in Sao Paulo — a community that will strike at the root causes of the crisis in Brazil,» said Davison. «He’s calling his fellow Catholics to join him in taking more kids off Brazil’s streets.»

Groundbreaking for the first community started in October. The first school is expected to open by March.

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