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Monte Azul Community Association in Brazil
OrganizationMonte Azul Community Association
Program CostsFree
Duration1 year
Room & BoardFree
Language RequirementsBasic Portuguese
In the mega city of São Paulo, boasting a population of nearly 20 million people, hundreds of favelas (slums) crowd the urban landscape. These Brazilian neighborhoods of suffering, consisting of decrepit wood and tin huts, form a large part of the promenade of this constantly growing mega city. Favelas in the eyes of most people are the habitats of the losers, of the "shirtless" (descamisados): 'You better not go there! Your life isn't safe there,' they say. Favela is a term symbolic of the stench, disease, fear, violence, and crime that accompany poverty.

Those primarily affected by violence and suffering seek a haven in the favela, and are hence termed Favelados. "I don't want to draw my hut, it's ugly. It accommodates ten people," says Ricardo, a ten-year-old child attending school in the Peinha favela. Surrounded by an eight-lane highway characterized by 24-hour big city traffic and gaudy illuminated advertisements, the Peinha is the neighboring favela of Monte Azul. Together with Horizonte Azul, these decrepit shantytowns, located on steep hills in south São Paulo, form the three slums involved in the social work of the Associação Comunitária.

In 1975, Waldorf teacher Ute Craemer first started to conduct social work with Brazilian slum children. Until the present day, she is in many respects the pioneer and role model of numerous social initiatives. Over the years, through direct work with the favelas' inhabitants, numerous changes have been initiated. This was made possible by constantly urging the favelados to help themselves, hence substantially improving the living conditions in the favela. Running water, sewage systems, kinder gardens, adult schooling, ambulatory facilities, and trash recycling form just a part of the many visible results of a stimulus toward development that over time has searched more and more thoroughly for answers to the urgent problems of a big city slum. With the future in mind, it attempts even today to deal with constantly renewing challenges to create a humane life for those living in impoverished conditions.

Next to the multiple recognition that the work has received from European visitors and observers, the unification of the Associação Comunitária in Brazil with UNICEF's "Prêmio Criança Cidadã" and "Prêmio Bem Eficiente" was praised as a "highly effective" program. In a list of the fifty best social organizations in Brazil, this program was characterized as very worthy of receiving funding. The Associação Comunitária today defines itself as a practical social educational workshop that facilitates the interaction between the favela's inhabitants, its project workers, and those temporarily assisting individuals who come from abroad to make first-hand experiences here. The goal is to work together and learn from each other.