In Brazil, mothers are still overwhelmingly responsible for childcare, particularly in the disadvantaged populations. Without state-sponsored or subsidized provisions for childcare or early childhood education, these mothers are often prevented from joining the workforce or community in any meaningful way, and they and their children remain trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty, unable to gain the assistance, education and confidence necessary to break out of this situation.
In response, many community groups are determined to address these fundamental barriers to advancement. One such group is the Tia Angelina Community Centre in Brasilia, the recipient of a donation amounting to nearly $34,000 from the Canadian Embassy’s Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.
The Community Centre was developed to provide childcare for women who needed to work to sustain their families, but its directors soon began to recognize a need for greater programming for the community, particularly for women.
Since then, they have established a far-reaching program that includes activities in the areas of health, well-being, employment skills, pre-natal courses, community therapy groups, scholarships, social activities and even kits to provide the basic necessities to new mothers.
Nair Queiroz Pessoa, current board member and daughter of founder Tia Angelina, recalls "I remember... returning home from school [as a child] to find our mother making more food because the food she had already made had been finished by the children in the community who needed it, and when we wanted to go to sleep our bed was already full of sleeping children. We learned very early that solidarity was part of all of our lives."
With the Embassy’s investment, the Community Centre was able to build and furnish a new multi-use room for the expansion of their programming, two new bathrooms, and a fence around the children’s playground— finally providing much-needed security for the young children at the Centre and reassurance for their mothers and caretakers.
“This investment will directly benefit more than 500 people and indirectly benefit more than 2000 women, children and their families." - Tia Angelina Community Centre President Joel Queiros da Silva.
During the inauguration ceremony, a touching and at times amusing presentation that featured the musical and theatrical talents of the Centre's young charges, Canadian Ambassador to Brazil Jamal Khokhar underscored Canada’s commitment to the community.
“Canada is very happy to provide this much-needed support to the Tia Angelina Community Centre, whose efforts are improving the lives of so many in its community,” said the Ambassador.
“Canada and Brazil have many values in common, but first among these is the belief that the most important thing we can offer this world is a more promising future for our children." - Ambassador Khokhar
All photos by Ana Carla Mello