Juiz de Fora
The massive socio-economic divide in Brazil affects every town and city. Where the richest live in comfort, the poorest are forced to scrape an existence.
The middle classes living in air conditioned apartments in Minas Gerais state have job security and a bright future, where the poor have insecure low paid work and little hope.
A city in crisis
Juiz de Fora is a city of half a million in the state of Minas Gerais. An important regional industrial centre, its economy relies on steel mills, automotive and textile factories. Enabling all this to happen is the service industry which relies on the very poorest of the town's inhabitants.
Where those building cars and smelting steel will have job security and can look forward to pensions when they retire, jobs in the service industry tend to be casual labour with little or no job security and are extremely poorly paid. Over 40,000 in the city (10% of the population) live on less than $1 a day.
The poorest live in favelas, shanties built on the edges of the city. They are frequently badly built and have little in the way of services such as sewerage, running water, educational or healthcare facilities. There are an estimated 1400 favelas in Juiz de Fora.
Parents need support in looking after their children
Malnutrition is a major issue in the poorest neighbourhoods of Juiz de Fora, even though across the city as a whole it is relatively low in Brazilian terms at 4%. Malnutrition is one of the most obvious signs of poverty in the city.
Another issue in Juiz de Fora is the high numbers of young women who give birth between the ages of 10 and 19 - around 15% of babies born in the city are to girls in this age group. Being too young to get a job and being from a poor family when they give birth, it is more difficult for young single mothers to look after their children than the rest of their socio-economic group.
Illiteracy is relatively low in the Minas Gerais state, at around 4%. Even so, across the state this leaves almost 90,000 unable to read or write. Illiteracy closes down any hope of work in the formal economy.
What we do in Juiz de Fora
SOS Children's Villages arrived in Juiz de Fora in 1980. The SOS Children's Village has a social centre which provides a family strengthening programme, while alleviating poverty in the community in a holistic and sustainable manner. The Children's Village houses ten SOS families which take on children who can no longer live with their parents.
The social centre reaches out to families from across the community, offering family strengthening programmes and day care facilities. The idea of the family strengthening programme is to ensure that families stick together for the ultimate benefit of the child. Reaching out to over 1000 children, the day care facilities enable parents to go to work safe in the knowledge that their child is being cared for.
Children's Village provides a new home for orphans
There are several SOS families in our Children's Village that look after children who are no longer able to live with their parents. These children and others from the wider community can attend our SOS primary school which is now run by the municipality. In children from the Village attending school in the community, so they forge bonds with, and play a part in it.
When it is time to spread their wings, older children are offered shared accommodation for them to live in while they attend further education or training. Qualified counsellors guide them through the final stages into adulthood.