A few days ahead of the Champions League Final at London’s Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 29-year old Dante has cemented his long-standing commitment to SOS Children by becoming an SOS Ambassador.
“I come from a modest background myself,” says Dante. “I’ve made it, and I want to help other children do the same. That’s why I’m happy and proud to be an SOS Ambassador.”
For many years now, Dante has been a frequent visitor to the SOS Children’s Village in his hometown of Salvador de Bahia in western Brazil.
Dante remembers how his interest in SOS Children first began: “About three years ago, a football fan asked me to sign a jersey so he could put it up for auction and send the proceeds to the SOS Children’s Village in Salvador de Bahía.
“I thought to myself that I had to find out more about this. At the earliest opportunity I went to see the village. There, I knew immediately that I wanted to help those children.”
Despite its moniker “the capital of happiness” due to its inhabitants’ famous friendliness, Salvador de Bahia is a deeply impoverished city. Of the 2.6 million residents, it is estimated that 2.4 million live on less than £20 a month – sometimes much less.
As always, it is children and young people who suffer the most. Many are exposed to the very worst effects of poverty, from forced labour and drug abuse to sexual abuse, discrimination and violence. The consequences of such conditions are often devastating, leaving one in five children with emotional difficulties.
This is a story all too familiar to Dante. “I grew up in a very poor area. My childhood was difficult, as it was for most children living there. We couldn’t afford many things, but the whole family pulled together and worked hard to help each other. That is how I learned about the value of strong family ties and helping each other out.
“Family is everything to me,” he adds proudly.
And it is because family is so important to Dante that he is supporting SOS Children’s work. In Salvador de Bahia, where Dante grew up, we have worked for over 30 years, helping fragile families in the community and giving vulnerable children the education and support they need to grow up happy and healthy.
We believe our approach is the best way to help Brazilian families achieve a better future, and we welcome Dante’s support.
As for Dante, he is looking forward to Saturday’s final. Asked whether he thinks the children of Salvador de Bahia will be rooting for him in the match, he laughs and replies: “Of course! The children – and the grown-ups too!”
Find out more about the work we do in Brazil.