Children are Stars on Earth

Traumatized children who grow up in the most difficult conditions are numerous in the poorer neighborhoods of São Paulo. ‹Pequenas estrelas na terra› is an initiative that has been a point of contact and a place of security for many children for 20 years.

There is a lot to do in the Brazilian city: poverty, crime, unstable family relationships, and violence are still present. Two decades ago, the initiative started its work with five children and now looks after 150 children and teenagers. The Casa Criança Querida (House of the Beloved Child) is the daycare center and the Circo Ponte das Estrelas (Circus Star Bridge) is open to the youth group. It has not been an easy year for these initiatives, as they were also severely affected by the closures and Covid measures. However, they have used every measure and closure time to develop new offers adapted to the situation. The larger project ‹Ando Junto› (I walk together) emerged, in which art and animal-assisted therapy merge. For this purpose, several animals were acquired – cows, a horse, rabbits, dogs – which had themselves been ‹discarded› and had received poor treatment. Stables had been built, and for a small group of particularly stressed children, it is now possible to experience the small farm, get to know the animals with their history, and be accompanied in art therapy after their time outside. The year 2020 with its lockdowns also had other consequences that hit the children particularly hard. They could not go to the daycare center and were exposed to hunger, acts of violence, and abuse. When they were able to return and small offers took place again, a lot of trust had to be rebuilt and the children had to be fed. Brazil experienced a major economic crisis in 2021 and the majority of families already lacked food and hygiene products. Nevertheless, the initiative regained its footing: «We rebuilt our everyday lives, with all activities such as crafts, music, circus training, rhythm and movement games, art and meals together, and we tried to give the children back some joy of life and confidence with this simple rhythm.» (Monika Klein, Annual Report 2021) At the end of 2021, it was even possible to take the children to a lake for a week on vacation and to give them undisturbed days of play in nature and being together.

In the playhouse, photo: Ponta das Estrelas

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