Mission Champion: Avril Shipton
A bimonthly newsletter is published on the Univida website.
These are difficult times financially but the need to help the poorest and the neediest is constantly increasing. I am grateful for the financial support from the church this year. Univida is a small charity and any reduction of annual income is significant, directly affecting the number of staff and consequently the number of children that can be helped.
Following the pandemic years there is a wonderful recovery in progress, building an abundance of opportunity and seeding hope for the future. The University of Life is once more at full capacity, with 19 Brazilian staff, 260 children and a growing waiting list. With drug taking and violence affecting most homes in the slums, the staff are able to help children frightened and confused by what is happening around them. Within the project boundaries the children find acceptance and calm. Team work, sport, dance groups and music help to build self-worth and assistance to understand school work and access to computer technology builds confidence.
Last term there were several big events involving parents and friends of the students. A fun packed Children’s Activity Day was very popular when former students returned to help. A staff training and bonding day established a good team spirit and integrated the four relatively new teachers. The first Family Lunch for four years was attended by 500+ people and was an opportunity to share the project’s Christian ethos aided by the new found skills of the choir and the dancers. The Christmas production was a profound and spectacular event. Videos of these productions are both humbling and inspiring.
In the coming months our Mission Partners Marc and Ruth Marques are:
· Coming to share their “Jesus story” at the 10 am service on 28th May
· looking to start a Saturday group for students leaving the project
· resolving the problem of flash flooding on the premises in the rainy season
· celebrating 40 years of Marc being involved with Street Children in Fortaleza, during this time he has provided education and hope to thousands of children from the slums. There is an article summarising his achievements in the April / May newsletter.
Thank you to everyone who is supporting the project in prayer.
Thank you to those who have purchased homemade marmalade, jams and chutneys, proceeds for 2022 amounted to £610.
Thank you also to those who support Univida directly and those who support Ruth as a charity mission worker.
Some extracts from the May Newsletter:
Nitasha's super powers
As part of our focus on values, we’ve been asking our students to tell us what kind of positive behaviour they are going to contribute to the project this year. To help make things fun they have been identifying these behaviours as their super powers. This is Nitasha with her superhero activity. She completed the phrase with her name and told us that her superpower this year will be “always being kind.” Nitasha has been a student with us for several years and is now in year 8. In so many ways she is already a superhero. She lives in a very small simple shack. Her mother’s only source of income is occasional work cleaning houses. Nitasha’s brother has special needs and needs constant support and medication. During the pandemic she worked as a babysitter to raise extra funds for her family. Without The University of Life, poverty would most likely pull her away from a complete education.
Playground flooding in the Rainy Season
We often talk about the impact of the rainy season on the health and safety of children in slum communities. Diseases like Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya, impact our children and staff every year. Sadly we see none of the basic improvements in sanitation and drainage that would help combat these diseases in the streets and alleyways around us. This season we are experiencing a lot of flooding at The University of Life which because of illegal building taking place around our walls. There are no council drains to take away the surface water away and the level of the water table is extremely high. On this video you can see the speed at which water builds up at back of our refectory and floods the patio and corridors. The water level is also threatening our new kitchen and the two lower classrooms in this corridor. The solutions we have are two-fold. We need to slow down the accumulation of this water at the lowest point of our grounds, and we need to pump it back up to the road on the very far side of the gymnasium, where there is an external drain. In the past, this water has flowed into the large green area behind the project but since the land invasions, the water has no where to go. This level of flash flooding occurred in just 90 minutes of torrential rain. When this happens during the day, the children have to stay in their classes and it becomes almost impossible to move around until the waters recede.