I’d like to introduce you to some of the people I met during my visit to Maua. Please scroll through the gallery below to read their messages to you:
William is 21, a musician and youth leader in Maua. Here he is teaching me to play the drums! He also teaches capoeira dancing to young people.
William says, ‘I like Capoeira because it helps me to relax and forget my problems. I feel really happy. Doing Capoeira is the best thing. Capoeira is important for building community because it helps us to make friends. Once you are friends, you have respect for one another. We meet here two or three times a week and that helps us be friends when we are outside doing other things. I feel great, peaceful, I forget all my problems.’
William with messages from Maricourt School, ‘I want to start my own samba and pagode band. I want to help buy a house for my mum. I want to help all the families who live here in Maua to have a permanent place to live. My message to young people in England and Wales is this: if you have the opportunity, play sport. And if you have a dream, keep trying. Sport is good for building friendships and making people happy.’
After finding herself homeless and living under a motorway bridge with two young children, Nete was helped by APOIO. She has been working with APOIO ever since, leading occupations including at Maua. She is expecting a baby in October.
Nete with a gift of blankets made by CAFOD supporters in Liverpool, ‘I havent bought anything for my baby yet, this is his first present, thank you so much.’
Nete with a message from CAFOD supporters in Portsmouth, ‘We are going to make a mural from these cards and photos. We feel secure and happy. When we face difficulties, we will remember that people across the other side of the world are thinking of us and this will give us strength. I want you to be certain that the work we are doing, like tiny ants, is making a real impact on the lives of families here. And if it wasn’t for your support, we would be in a very different situation.’
Raquel runs a shop inside Maua, selling essentials to the residents. She said to me, ‘I feel proud to receive the affection that comes from England and Wales. I thank you for your words. I want to send you my affection. I want to say that your support gives us strength.’
Raquel with her friend Elene (right). Elene said, ‘It is good not only for us, but for others to know that there are people far away thinking of us. We are grateful especially because people in our own country don’t give us such support. Thank you for your cards, gifts and messages.’
Genotin and Silva Nete. Silva Nete is 28 and a mother of three. She gets up at 2am every morning to work at the market.
Genotin is part of a team of residents who were fixing Maua’s sewer while I was visiting.