Encontro Com Deus UK Annual report 2019
First, a few words from Patrick, president of ECD Brazil:
"At the end of 2019, we were just hearing about this unknown disease emerging in China. We thought we were walking towards a year of celebration for 20 years of ECD Brazil. But the arrival of Coronavirus has meant disruption and necessary change.
In 2019, it became necessary to learn to communicate in Spanish because of an influx of refugees from Spanish-speaking countries, and to make room for innovative opportunities such as Robotics and Tap dancing to better engage with a new generation of young people. We engaged and participated in so many collective spaces with counsellors and more, and celebrated achieving the Zilda Arns medal. It has been a year of many achievements, more than any other in our history.
Thank you for walking with us. Without your partnership, none of this would have been possible"
A few words from me:
"2019 has been an amazing year to be a trustee for Encontro Com Deus UK. We have gained a new member of our team (read more about this below!), shared in so many exciting developments and achievements with ECD Brazil, seen some wonderful fundraising and of course experienced the wonder and impact of the 2019 UK Team's trip to Curitiba.
It is a privilege to be able to compose content for ECD UK, and contribute to raising awareness of the incredible work of ECD in protecting families and children. I am so excited to be able to share it with you! I want to thank all of you for your support, emotionally, financially, on social media and in prayer. You are all fantastic. We are all ECD. Thank you"
Acolhimento Conjunto - The Casas
The team in Brazil continue to work hard to protect vulnerable families in 2 homes in Curitiba. It's so important to keep families together in times of trial, and to promote familial bonds when the surrounding situation is a scary and uncertain one such as one of domestic violence. The key aims are to guarantee the basic needs of the mothers and children, provide help for reintegration to the job market, provide psychological and social care, and provide help to find a home outside of the care of ECD.
Community Centre Cajuru & Projects
The Community Centre run by ECD in Cajuru, Curitiba, continues to do fantastic things for the people in its community. As you read this, the Community Centre is closed to its normal purpose, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, but is being used to house extra families that would normally be in one of the Casas, and includes two quarantine spaces: one for new families and one for those with suspected symptoms.
The biggest blessing
The staff at Encontro Com Deus Brazil are so happy with their new, beautiful working space for the technical team and admin staff.
It took months of construction and renovation, but it was worth it.
"Our technical team can [now] work better to help the families who receive our services"
The new space is above the Encontro Com Deus Church, and includes an improved garage, new rooms and more space for services, covered areas, offices, and more.
So many more amazing things...
- Receiving the Zilda Arns medal (pictured)
- Installation of covered areas including the entrance, roof-based sports pitch, corridor and wash area (Thanks, UK Fundraisers!)
- Training in safe space methodology, occupational therapy, nursing & first aid.
- Standardisation of services provided.
- Awareness-raising activities.
- Renovation of Casa Cajuru (Casa 1) according to national health standards: painting and new furniture including beds and mattresses, and a brand new kitchen.
- New equipment in all areas for both Casas.
- Consolidation of the weekly schedules and workflow for the technical team.
- Creation of 'Welcome packs' for new families.
- Renovation of the Garage area.
Anna (pictured on the left here, alongside one of the children from Community Centre Cajuru, and one of our trustees, Sue) tells us the story of her experience of ECD and how it didn't stop changing her life after she visited in 2019.
"My trip to Encontro com Deus had a bigger impact on me than I could ever have imagined. I was nervous to go as it was a completely new experience and I had no idea what to expect. However we were welcomed with so much kindness it was overwhelming. I’m so thankful to the whole team and all the children at Encontro com Deus for the love that they showed us. Hearing of the situations that many of the children were living through was incredibly difficult. To then see those same children being able to laugh and engage at ECD was amazing. It showed to me just how important it is that the project can offer a space for these children and families to feel safe, loved and cared for. I was overwhelmed by the faith of some individuals I met, both staff and families. Even when times were really tough they didn’t give up and held their trust in God. This is a lesson which I will never forget. If anyone asks me about ECD I could talk all day! I still have drawings in my room from some of the children and it makes me smile every time I see them. I’m so grateful that I was able to be a tiny part of their work and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for the project (and I will definitely be back!)
One of my favourite memories was when we attended ECD church. It was a portuguese service but at the end we stood round in groups, held hands and said the Lord’s Prayer in our own languages. There was a real mixture of people from different backgrounds and places, those from the local community, the casa and our group. Even though we couldn’t necessarily understand each other’s words, being able to feel the power and sense of unity was overwhelming."
Ruth (4th in from top right) tells us the story of her experience of ECD when she visited in 2019 as part of the UK team.
"I only really joined the group to support Anna [my daughter] as I wasn't keen on the idea of her travelling all that way without me. I felt nervous before the trip. But the welcome we received and the new friends we made meant I look back and wonder what I was stressed about! My favourite bit of the trip was visiting the 2 homes and interacting with the mothers and children there. I was in awe of the way they could smile and laugh in the midst of their challenges and of the way they cared for their children. They were so generous with what they had and grateful for our input. The staff at ECD were amazing in the support they gave to us as a team, and their love and care for the families. The trip made me look in a new way at my life and work in the UK and made me especially grateful for my family and church."
Updates from the UK
Partially through the hard work of the UK Team fundraising for covered areas within the Encontro Com Deus buildings, and partially through the generosity of our supporters (like you!) we have been able to see some amazing funds raised in the UK. Here are just a few pictures:
Katherine (pictured bottom left, fundraising for ECD by completing 'Tough Mudder') has been on both the 2017 and 2019 trips to visit ECD in Brazil, and this year became a trustee. Here's her story:
"In 2019, I had another opportunity to visit ECD. This was going to be my second trip with St. Peter’s. We went with a smaller group compared to our 2017 trip, with just 13 people. I could not wait to get back to see all the children, staff and spend time soaking in God’s presence, knowing we were working for him.
"One of the special moments that I will never forget is working with one of the teenagers one afternoon while we were making masks.
"One young boy came over and made a mask. He was very creative and chatty. I was able to have a full conversation through the translator. After he had finished his mask, he went on to do a colouring activity about his superhero. The instructions were already written on in Portuguese and he wrote my name and my two helpers names on it and underneath said, ‘the team from the UK are my heroes because they came and spent time with us’. This statement came from a 12-year-old and made me completely well up. We never know what is going on in the children and young peoples’ lives but just by doing one small thing we can make a massive difference.
"This made me really think about how I wish I could be more involved with ECD and what I could do to help. I thought about it for the rest of our time there and spoke to Sue, one of our other trustees, and about how I could be more involved.
"I am pleased to say that I officially became a trustee in June 2019, just four months after coming home from Brazil."