Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brazil Sponsor Tour 2012: Part 5, An epic conclusion

After my two and a half days in Fortaleza I felt like I had a full vacation. I mean, what more did I need after seeing my precious Brazilian sister? But the trip was only half over! We flew south to Sao Paulo to repeat what we did in Fortaleza there. (Just as a little side note, Sao Paulo is the 5th largest city in the world with a lovely 20 million people living there).

For our first full day there we visited a center in Sao Paulo and spent the morning playing and doing crafts with the children of that project.

(Note the little girl on the left. I visited her home later in the day).

Then we went on home visits in the slums of Sao Paulo where these children live. The slums here were different in that the home were stacked on top of each other up and down hillsides with narrow, steep paths to get to the homes. When it rains there is nothing stopping water from coming into the homes. There were similarities like the raw sewage, stray animals, terrible smell, and incredibly small homes.

The home I visited houses at least six people and was about the size (if not smaller) of my college dorm room. The mother and father live with at least four of their kids (they have six and I don't remember if they all still live there). The youngest three are in the project and two have sponsors. The mother told us that she doesn't feel safe there but they have no where else to go. All of their clothes were piled up in the bedroom to dry out because they're all damp from rain. The back wall of the kitchen was entirely covered in black mold from the rain. Their bathroom is a tiny space off of the kitchen. The kids sleep in a small room in the very back of the house that is also used for storage that the mother built herself because there simply was not enough room. Electricity is too expensive so they have exposed wires and have created their own electric systems to they have power (which is illegal).

Again, we were not allowed to take pictures within the slums but I got some pictures of what they're like from the bus area. They stretch on for miles

After lunch we drove to the country office in Campinas to learn more about Compassion Brazil.
The countryside to get there was beautiful.

 While at the country office we learned about the behind the scenes work of Compassion Brazil, got to see where all of the letters come in and get distributed and meet some of the amazing country staff. We were shown a video about a new area of Brazil that Compassion Brazil is working in called Codo. One of our translators, Ana, created the video and it was heartbreaking. I don't remember all of the statistics but girls start having children there when they are pretty young, many have multiple miscarriages, the infant mortality rate is very high, and the village is completely cut off from the rest of Brazil. There are no major roads getting in or out of it. The poverty there is on par with Haiti or parts of Africa. We also learned that next year Brazil will be getting a Child Survival Program and the work will begin in Codo which is very exciting!

That night we went to a pizzeria in Campinas. Prior to this trip I didn't think of pizza when I thought of Brazil but apparently a lot of Italians have settled in Sao Paulo and its surrounding areas. Many Brazilians think their pizza is better than the Italians. I've never had real Italian pizza but I will say that Brazilian pizza was pretty darn good. And then there was the dessert pizza. I absolutely love bananas and I'm mildly addicted to chocolate this joint had banana pizza and chocolate pizza. Bam.
It was seriously fantastic. Definitely up there with the best things I've ever eaten.

The following day some people went to the second fun day (for those that sponsor children in the southern part of Brazil). The rest of us went to the soccer museum because soccer is basically religion in Brazil.
Even though I'm not a huge soccer person I thought the museum was cool and I definitely learned some stuff. For example, most bars/restaurants do not allow people to wear soccer (football) jerseys because when people see rival jerseys it frequently causes fights. In Brazil the teams are also connected with the social classes so games get very heated. Not only is it a battle of the teams but in many ways its a battle of the classes.

The museum is actually a stadium (games are still played there sometimes) and it was the sight of the 1954 World Cup. Brazil was in the final game and lost. Brazilians were so upset about this that many committed suicide after the game by jumping off of the top of the stadium.
As a whole, the entire experience was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a perfect week and I would go back and do it again in a heartbeat (if only I had the money...) :) I plan to go back someday hopefully with my parents or with another sponsor tour to see Isadora again and say hello to Lorenna and see more of this beautiful country.

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