SOS Children's Village Rio Bonito is in South America's largest city, Sao Paulo. As is the case in much of Brazil, the city is deeply divided between the very wealthy and the stigmatised poor.
Sao Paulo is a vast, sprawling urban area that is gradually swallowing up a number of surrounding towns. Large areas of the city are favela's - informal settlements developed without any urban planning. An estimated 29 million people inhabit Sao Paulo and the surrounding area, making the city one of the biggest in the world.
A gaping social divide between rich and poor
Brazil's economy has raced ahead in recent times, putting it among the top ten economies of the world. Even so, the wealth is disproportionately shared among the wealthiest with very little of the country's wealth reaching the bottom 10%. The poorest people often live in the favelas which rarely have access to public services, have poor sanitation and high crime rates. Today around 1 million people live in the favelas of Sao Paulo.
A vicious cycle for low-income families
Many of those in the favelas are illiterate and children are frequently forced to go to work at an early age to support their families instead of getting an education. This seriously limits their chances of breaking the cycle of poverty they are trapped in. They face stigma and discrimination from many of those who are better off and struggle to shake of the perception that all those living in favelas are drug dealers and criminals.
Helping reduce poverty in Bonito
We started our Children's Village Rio Bonito in 1980. The Village looks after children who are unable to live with their parents or are orphans. We also run a Social Centre which aims to alleviate poverty in the area as well as a Vocational Training Centre.
In partnership with the city of Sao Paulo, we run a child day-care centre and offer child minding to over 300 children under the age of four. These facilities enable parents to go to work in the knowledge their children are in safe, nurturing hands. We provide support and training to more than 570 adults in work and parental skills.
SOS Children's Villlage offers a caring home
There are 10 SOS families in the Village. These cater for nearly 100 children in a loving, family environment who are unable to live with their parents. The children go to an SOS primary school, which is now run by the municipality, and benefits the whole community.
As they grow up, children are able to move into supported, shared accommodation through the SOS youth programme. Whilst there, they can participate in further education and vocational training programmes and are guided on how to make decisions about their future by qualified youth counsellors.