Brasília

Group of children looking up making OK sign - SC Sao Paulo-Poá, BrazilBrasília was planned and built as the capital city of Brazil in the 1950's. Even though its centre is very beautiful to see, only the wealthy live in the city centre, with the poor living in the suburbs and unplanned satellite towns.

Inequality in the city is extremely pronounced.

A growing economic divide

Located in the central-west region of the country, around 2.5 million people live there. While Brasília is largely known as a tourist destination for its unique architecture, it also has a large divide between the richest and poorest inhabitants.

The divide was evident from the start - the city's creators relied on poor labourers from the north eastern region of the country. Many stayed in unplanned settlements outside the city while building it and chose to remain in the area once they had completed it. These satellite towns are still a draw to internal economic migrants and there are a number of 'favelas', in and around the country's capital.

Favelas are unplanned building developments, often of basic and dangerous design. These developments are frequently illegal and some governments have had a policy of bulldozing such areas in 'slum clearances'. The homes being small and overcrowded mean that there is frequently conflict within families, leading to physical abuse of their children.

Drug abuse and sexual exploitation of children

There are high rates of alcoholism and drug abuse in the favelas, as well as domestic and sexual abuse. Many children leave home in the face of such difficulty and have to look after themselves alone.

Traditionally, only the father of the family goes to work in Brazilian families. With the lack of affordable day care facilities, women cannot work even if they wanted to.

In the face of such difficulty, children frequently fall into substance abuse too. Vulnerable children with substance abuse problems can face issues such as sexual exploitation and child labour to pay for their drug and alcohol use.

Our role in helping families in Brasilia

We arrived in Brasília in 1968. We run a social centre to support families, a primary school, and also have a number of SOS families to support children who can no longer live with their parents.

A mother and daughter from Joao Pessoa in BrazilBased in the Children's Village, our social centre provides family strengthening programmes which aim to help families in a holistic way and alleviate poverty in the community. Our social centre has a day care centre which allows mothers of young children to go to work while their children are in safe hands, enabling families to have a second income.

We run a SOS primary school which is now administered by the local municipality. Children from throughout the community attend the school, as well as children from the Children's Village, which encourages community involvement on the part of the children we care for.

SOS Children's Village Brasília

For children who cannot live with their families we provide a number of SOS families who give a loving and safe environment as they grow up, lovingly cared for by SOS Mothers. Going to school with other children in their community, they make friends and networks outside of their homes as they grow up.

As young people reach adulthood, we offer an SOS youth programme, which includes shared accommodation and the support of qualified counsellors which guide them to taking on the role of adulthood in a supportive environment.

At the moment, we are only able to accept regular donations and Village sponsorships for our work in Brazil, because all of our children are fully sponsored.

If you would like to sponsor a child, you may do so in other Central and South America countries and other continents around the world.

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