I have visited a Project called “Cia da Graça” (Grace Company).
This is an interdenominational project that involves a few churches working together among the less fortunate people who are living below the poverty line, in the surroundings of the dumpster area.
The families build their own houses from material that they find in the dumpster, such as pieces of wood, pieces of plastic, etc.
The living conditions in this area are really poor. The families live from the money they make from the sale of materials that they collect in the dumpster.
The dumpster smells so bad that it is even hard to describe it. It is like the worst putrid smell, a place that smells worst than sulphur.
All kinds of rubbish are dumped there and stay there for a long time, which causes a constant smoke to come out of it.
When I looked at the liquid that comes out from the rubbish and stops on the ground forming a little pool I could see little bubbles that are appear constantly probably because of the chemicals and rotten food.
And it is in this place that the people spend their whole day, searching for materials, collecting what can be sold to get some money to survive, to feed themselves.
The conditions in which they collect the materials are depressing to see. Some people walk there without shoes, they do not wear gloves, they use a stick to move the rubbish around to see if there is something deeper than the surface to be collected.
One man had his foot wounded, wrapped in some kind of fabric, and he was still walking there, putting his foot in the rotten bubbling water, probably catching a huge infection because of his wounds being opened and in contact with that water.
As they collect the rubbish they place it in the big bags to be sold to the recycling industry.
The local government does not have interest in solving this problem. But it has done something to make their lives a little bit better. They have built 2 bedroom houses in the area for the families to live in so they could leave their shanty houses.
The houses are not bad but it did not solve their social problem. They still work on the collection of materials from the dumpster because even though they have a house they still do not have a job to be able to leave the dumpster.
And many of them keep what we call “culture of the miserable” which means that their thinking is as if they were still miserable, as if they were living in the shanty houses, they act like miserable people. Many brought back inside the houses all the materials from the rubbish. Even though they have a brick house, they keep the wood walls and the plastic roof inside the new house. The dirtiness, the lack of hygiene and the miserable living conditions continue the same. They brought the shanty house inside the brick house! They still work in the dumpster and not much has changed for them.
The project “Cia da Graça” is pretty much their only hope for change. Their uniform T-shirt says: Cia da Graça, Compartilhando o maior tesouro da vida (Grace Company, sharing the biggest treasure of our life).
The project includes many ways of help (I had visited the project during 4 days to see a little bit of each area):
Weekly visits to the families for counseling, praying, talking, encouraging, etc.
Workshops for women every Saturday morning to teach them a new way of earning their money, such as making floor mats, making tea towels, making fridge magnets, etc.
Kids program every Saturday morning to teach them about Jesus, and also talking about hygiene, about respect, about obedience, etc.
Reading club for children every Friday afternoon to encourage kids to read books and to make them understand the value of education.
Preaching the word of God, praising God with music, praying together, witnessing the love of Jesus to them, walking with them through life.
Giving away a monthly basket with basic food and materials (rice, beans, flour, oil, salt, sugar, milk, etc).
One of the visits that I have participated of was to a lady’s house to give her a new oven which has been donated by a Christian person to the project.
This lady has been part of the project for a while, she goes to every workshop on Saturdays, she does not work in the dumpster, she attends church every weekend, her kids are in the reading club program, they are followers of Jesus and they are a testimony of the love of Jesus to those people around them.
A long time ago she told one of the leaders that her dream was to learn how to bake bread so she could bake it for her family and also sell the bread to earn some money.
And the day arrived when she received a new oven so she could bake bread at home.
The leaders also brought ingredients, a recipe and taught her how to make the bread.
It was such a happy day for her and for us.
She had a stove that had a broken oven. With the replacement for a better one, she donated her working stove to another lady from the community. She was blessed with a new stove-oven and she decided to bless someone else with her old stove.
And I also went there once more for the Christmas celebration, when we have gone to each of the houses to give a Christmas present, food for their Christmas supper and a word about the love of Jesus.
The youth group from the church has organized the purchase and packing of children’s toys to give away for Christmas.
A big group of volunteers went there to help giving away the presents to 100 families.
One thing that you can see from this project is that Brazilians do not wait to have all resources and circumstances to start doing something. Other cultures prefer to have everything organized before starting something but our culture is different, we are people who like doing things. We start working even though everyone else would have said that there are no conditions to start working because we know that God has called us to do it. Then while the project is going on we pray that God will provide the rest and we do not stop if it takes a while to be organized.
That is how it happens. This project has been running for quite a while without a land or proper place, without water or electricity, without financial support, without lots of volunteers, without materials. But the few volunteers there know that God has called them to do this work and they love the people there. It is more important for them to share the love of Jesus with the people under a tree than to wait for some bureaucratic process of getting a room to teach them.
And God has blessed them so much! They have helped and saved many lives there. Many people are out of the dumpster, out of alcohol and drugs, living a life of dignity and respect for themselves.
And recently they have been blessed with a donation of a land nearby for them to build an area to teach, preach and keep the project going. Even the fence has been given to them.
It is very important that this project continues because the needs are huge.
Please pray for financial resources for the building of the centre, for purchase of food, books, medication, for the maintenance of its volunteers, and other needs.
Please pray for more full time workers because there are only 4 people able to give their half day to this project. All of them are praying to be able to give full time to this but they need financial support to be able to leave their jobs. At the moment they look after 100 families, but there are 400 families living there, so they need many more people to help looking after them.
Please pray for the families who are in the program because many have suffered a lot and still suffer because of poverty, family issues, health issues, violence from drug trafficking , domestic violence, and other problems. Many have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and they have been transformed. Praise the Lord for this!
But there is a lot to do!
They have many plans for this year, such as offering medical and dental services, seminars, offering service of taking people’s IDs (many do not have any documentation at all), helping the families to put their children in schools (many do not go to school), teaching them to grow food, offering sports classes, teaching adults to read, and other dreams they have for those people.
They know that their dreams come from God’s heart and they ask us to pray for them to see those things happening in Jesus’ name.
I believe in the transformation of this nation and every other nation in the world as we put them in God’s hands. Keep praying!
God bless you and thank you for praying for us.