The Reality of Child Prostitution in Brazil

The Reality of Child Prostitution in Brazil

Young people fill the sidewalks, and are found in front of the dirty hotels, waiting for their next clients. Illiterate or of low education, these young people are unprepared for the labor market. In prostitution, they have found a mode of survival.

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A Typical Day at a Child Development Center in Brazil

The weather is cold, and it is hard to get out of the bed. It’s 7:30 in the morning on a typical day, and despite his wanting to stay under the blankets, Renan has an appointment he wouldn’t miss for anything. boy getting out of bed

Lilian, his young mother, enters the colorful room. “Wake up!” she says.

The children’s bedroom used to be the family’s kitchen before the improvement they made after receiving a Christmas gift from her son’s sponsor: a new floor and new paint on the bedroom’s walls. The children decorated the room.

Renan stands up and starts making his bed. The boy goes to the bathroom and brushes his teeth — just like he was taught at the child development center where he is enrolled —  and combs his hair.

He carefully puts on his student center uniform before leaving home with his older brother Jean, who also attends the center. The church gives each of the children a T-shirt to wear. (more…)

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Letter Writing: Love Has No Borders

Letters are the closest connection that a child can have with her or his sponsor. The donation you faithfully give each month provides the financial support for your child’s development, but your letters provide beyond the material — needs such as love, hope and possibilities.

If poverty had a face, in Brazil it would be the face of a child. According to UNICEF, in 2004 more than 50 million Brazilians were living in poverty — without access to basic needs such as potable water, health care, good nutrition, education — and facing high rates of unemployment and violence.

Nearly 30 million of that number were children and adolescents.

In that same year, 800,000 children from 7 to 14 years old living in these conditions were not attending school, most of them from illiterate families who have no way to help their children in their education. Without encouragement, it is easy for them to just abandon school and start working in order to help their families.

It is an endless cycle as these same children one day will grow up and have their own children.

But there is hope, and your sponsored child knows exactly where to find it. Your sponsored child goes to her or his room, gets an old box full of photos and letters from under the bed, and as this child starts reading a new breath of life fills the heart.

“The letters from the sponsors are very important on children’s social and cognitive development,” says Maura, director of Lar Batista de Crianças child development center.

“Through the letters they have access to another culture and language, learn how to communicate well by speaking or writing, and moreover, they learn about affection and respect. To love and be loved.”

For that reason the correspondence monitor at the child development center also talks with the children about geography and history from their sponsor’s countries.

Luiz is 12 years old and loves getting letters from his sponsors, a couple from Australia.

“I feel that I am a very important person when I say at school that I have friends from another country and we send letters to each other. I also like to know that I pray for them, they for me and God listens to us.”

boy writing at desk


One of Luiz’s classmates at Lar Batista de Crianças is also sponsored, but the 11-year-old boy has only received one letter in the two years he has been sponsored.

“I feel sad and sometimes frustrated. I’d really like to know about my sponsor’s life, such as: Where does she work? Is she married with kids? What are her hobbies? Does she have a pet? Things that my teachers cannot answer for me.”

According to Maura, children get excited when they receive their letters. “They gather together and tell to one another what their sponsors wrote to them. It is a joyful moment for each one of them.” And such a moment is special not only for the children, but for all the people who make this relationship happen.

Marta has been working as the correspondence monitor at Projeto Vilamar child development center since 2000. She says that her job is full of challenges, but she understands she is playing the role of a bridge between two people who love and care about each other.

“There was a specific letter that touched my heart. A sponsor whose wife had passed away wrote to his child telling about his pain. I started crying and also the child … at that moment I understood that even living so far from one another we can feel and share feelings with a friend we love.”

To most of our child development centers’ staff in Brazil, the improvement children show in their behavior is visible from the moment they get sponsored.

“They have to concentrate to write well, which makes them think about what they are writing. They are automatically compelled to learn how to write and read correctly. Also, the fact that they have somebody concerned about their lives also makes most of them avoid bad company, drugs and youth delinquency. They cannot accept disappointing their sponsors.”

In the spiritual area, children recognize that the same Lord they worship in Brazil is worshiped overseas.

Very shy, 12-year-old Maria loves to talk about Jesus with her sponsors, a couple from the United States.

“We used to write about our dreams and day to day. But what I like most is when they teach me new things about God’s word.”

Vitória thanks God for her sponsor’s life –- an 80-year-old lady who loves the 11-year-old girl as her own granddaughter.

“She asked me to call her grandma, and that is exactly how I feel about her. She is part of my life and family, even though we never spoke personally. I care about her letters so much that I have a special place for them, inside a drawer … for me, love has no borders.”

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God’s Little Girl Strives for Excellence

Excellence is answering God’s call to the best of our abilities with the gifts and resources He has given us. It is carrying out God’s work with an attitude of enjoyment.

Thanks to the Leadership Development Program* (LDP), Talita is living in the best moment of her life, not only professionally, but also spiritually. Her life story is about striving for excellence. Her dedication makes her an example to be followed by others and a reference of struggle and Christian character.

Petite and delicate, 20-year-old Talita teaches the 5- and 6-year-olds at her former child development center. God, the Father, has made her a great woman.

two girls and a boy coloring

The public system of education in Brazil is full of contrast. The best universities are public, and to be accepted in to one, the student has to have a good and strong education during high school. But when talking about a young person who’s attended a public school, the odds are small.

Public schools are the worst ones and rarely prepare for the next step. Besides all the hardship and risks children in poverty have to face, their academic and professional path can be compromised due to the lack of good education.

Talita attended a public school in her town, Tauá, a small city about 330 kilometers from Fortaleza – the capital of Ceará state. But different from most of the students of lower class who barely finish their studies in order to get a job and help their families, she devoted herself – and still does – to study. She overcame the statistics and got a vacancy in a public university – the “Universidade Estadual do Ceará” (University of Ceará State). (more…)

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Ana Cláudia: Profile of a Christian Leader

In March 2007, Ana Cláudia, the youngest child of five siblings, got the approval of the Leadership Development Program* (LDP) committee and started her path toward a bright future. She was part of a selected team of young people who overcame their circumstances during their child sponsorship period. The 20-year-old young lady faced a hard process, but now is studying pedagogy at Faculdades Cearenses in Fortaleza City where she lives.

What if you don’t make it? But I will.

And if you don’t? All my efforts and expectations are focused on LDP. I know I will make it.

“She was not the only one of my children to have the opportunity to attend high school, but she was the only one to have the will and opportunity to attend college. I thank God for her life,” says Mrs. Maria, a 54-year-old widow who raised her five children, including Ana Cláudia, by herself.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – Hebrews 11:1-3 (NIV)

Ana Cláudia’s father was murdered during a holdup at the company where he used to work as a sentinel. She was only 15 days old.

Compassion became part of Ana Cláudia’s life when she was 9 and was enrolled at the child development center near her home.

girl standing in front of a child center

“The child center was and still is a reference in my neighborhood. Here where we live, children have so many options of wrong things they can choose to do. They have no orientation or hope, and many times no respect or love.

“For this reason I see my former child center as a shelter offering to the children a healthy life in many ways. Just like it happened to me.”


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Man sitting on a bench playing guitar for a group of children in a classroom

The Sound of Gratitude

At the age of 3, John had his first contact with music. It was at a Compassion child development center.

Everything in John’s life could be dissonant if a particular day in his past hadn’t happened. Now, like in a beautiful symphony, John is conducting his life in a new tone – the tone of leadership.

John was 12 when everything happened. It seemed to be the last straw when the director of his former child center called his name and said, “I want to see you in my office now.”

Frightened, John walked to the place so familiar to him because of his aggressiveness and disobedience. But this was a day he didn’t do anything wrong. So he thought, “It’s done. There is no way out.”

He was right. For sure there was not. (more…)

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