Click on the following link to read the latest newsletter from ReVive… You can also read past issues as well!
Click on the following link to read the latest newsletter from ReVive… You can also read past issues as well!
Once again we had the privilege of welcoming a British Ambassador to ReVive – this time it was Vijay who has just been appointed HM Ambassador to Brazil. It was a wonderful afternoon celebrating the best of both cultures with a special focus on the traditional ‘St John’ festivities at the end of June. This time, there was no cricket in the street, but the girls did teach Vijay the traditional ‘Forró’ dance!
Needless to say, Vijay was impressed and moved by the work that ReVive does and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with the British Diplomatic Mission to Brazil.
More pics can be seen here https://www.facebook.com/ReviveInternational/posts/1357319114346254
Christmas is fast approaching… At this time of year we usually take in one or two of the ReVive girls, who don’t have any where to go to spend Christmas, into our home to spend it with us. This always reminds me of something I wrote a long time ago (7 years!) about one of the boys who we worked with when we helped out at a project called My Father’s House. I’ll leave it with you…
“Christmas Eve 2009 will be the first anniversary of the death of Jonathan Romario Alves da Santana, one of the ‘old’ boys of My Father’s House project, who at the age of 13 was brutally murdered by being shot 5 times in the head by a gang who had been after him for over a year.
Jonathan has never been far from my thoughts over the past year and his tragically short life encapsulates the lives that many of Brazil’s 25 million street children and many million more around the world share, in which a fair few will also share in a senseless violent death.
Jonathan grew up on one of the many ‘favelas’ or shanty towns in the greater Recife area and it just happened to be the favela by the side of Olinda’s rubbish dump where the Anglican Church of Living Waters and My Father’s House project reaches out to the poor and needy. Jonathan shared a childhood which isn’t unlike many of the other children on the favela; his Mother found a new man who was violent towards Jonathan and made his Mum choose between her son and himself. She chose him which effectively forced Jonathan out of the home. Out on the streets Jonathan became engrossed in the world of gangs, guns and drug trafficking and at the age of 11 became an ‘aviãozinho’ (little aeroplane) – a delivery boy for the gangs. He would be armed with a pistol as he delivered drugs and money around the favela. He was eventually caught by the police and naively gave up some names of his gang superiors – effectively a death sentence since he ‘talked’. My Father’s House found him and took him into the project to hide him from the gang.
This is where Jonathan entered into my life in March 2008 while I was a then worker in the project. He was very small for his age, very affectionate but had massive mood swings which could make him quite violent. During his stay in the project a change was beginning to take place in Jonathan; he wanted to leave gang life behind but remained quite troubled as we learned that the gangs hadn’t called off the death warrant. This led us to believe that Jonathan had done something else to anger the gang, we never found out exactly what it was but many for many nights he wouldn’t sleep until I had prayed with him sat on his bed.
After a few months, things got too much for Jonathan and he ran away from the project. I got a call one morning telling me that the gangs had tried to kill Jonathan; he had been shot in the shoulder but had survived and was now in hospital. I went to visit him along with another project worker to see what we could do. I met his Mum and his uncle who I drove to the bus station and paid for Jonathan and his uncle to get a bus to his Grandma’s house who lived in the countryside – a place where he would be safe.
He stayed there for a few months and was apparently doing well, studying and working to get a little bit of money. A few weeks later I heard that the gangs had killed Jonathan’s uncle after trying to find out where he had gone. I still remember the day when my phone rang and Jonathan’s Mum told me that she had gone to get Jonathan and had brought him back to the city. ‘Why would you do such a thing!?’ I asked, ‘Because I was jealous of his Grandma having custody of my son’ she replied. Sometimes the family needs more help than the actual boy.
Four days later, Christmas Eve 2008, Jonathan was ambushed around the corner from his home and at just 13 years old was shot and killed.
My faith is constantly challenged by those short months that I knew Jonathan and by the many other lives of children which I am involved in. What is my role, our role, the Church’s role in a world like this?
Christmas time is a time when the Church proudly proclaims the birth of Jesus Christ, ‘the King has come’, ‘Emmanuel – God with us’. Can the poor and needy of this world truly say that God’s representatives in this world, i.e. the Church – the body of Christ, are ‘with us’?
At Christmas time the Church celebrates the birth of a child, but do we show day by day the same life transforming power that Jesus Christ showed or do we merely talk about it?
Thirty odd years after his birth, this ‘Servant King’, would rebuke the religious leaders of the day for talking too much and being too legalistic and hypocritical. Whereas Jesus sought out those shunned by society and those looked down upon by the religious leaders – a prostitute who was set free from her demons; an adulteress who was held at the point of death by the ‘church’ of the day but who found forgiveness at the feet of Jesus; a cripple healed on the Sabbath; and an ‘easy’ woman who came face to face with ‘a man who told me everything that I had ever done’ – the messiah, by a well in the midday sun. The gospel, perhaps in its full form. Sometimes I see that same attitude of the Pharisees in me and within the Church as I struggle to find my role and think about the Church’s role in the world – perhaps we need to follow more of the example that Jesus set; proclamation and demonstration of the gospel.
I don’t think I will forget the last words that Jonathan ever said to me as he climbed out the back of my car at the bus station – ‘Andy, you and the project, are the only ones who ever believed in me.’ I believed in Jonathan because I believe in Him – Jesus Christ and his power to change and restore lives. Can our non-Christian friends, the poor, the needy, the sick, the shunned, the downtrodden, can they really say that we, the church through Jesus Christ, are the only ones who truly believe in them, who by God Emmanuel are ever ‘with’ them? As Bill Hybels said, ‘the local Church is the hope of the world’, I believe that.
Rose and I have been challenged by this thought and so this Christmas, our first as a married couple, we’ll be receiving Emerson for four days, one of the boys in the project who can’t go home for Christmas as his Mum is an alcoholic and drug addict who lives on the street. It’s a bit of a challenge and a few sacrifices have to be made but it’s also a tremendous privilege and a pleasure to be able to give someone something that he has never had before – Christmas in a loving family.
If I may, I’d like to leave you all with a Christmas thought – that during this very busy Christmas time amongst the presents, food (for many kids here Christmas lunch will just be whatever they manage to find on the rubbish dump), drink, left-overs, carol services, midnight communion services, wrapping paper, mince pies, mulled wine, please find some time to think – not just about the real reason for Christmas i.e. Jesus’ birth, which is quite easy to remember, but rather – what does Jesus’ birth mean to me and what effect, if any, does that have on my life?
Christmas Eve, here in Brazil, is the traditional time to meet with family, exchange presents and to have the Christmas meal. This year, however, there will also be a time found and a glass raised to Jonathan, the effects and challenges of whose short life still resound in mine and, I’m certain, will continue to do so throughout 2010.
To all of you, our dear friends and family, we wish you all a very happy Christmas and hope to see some of you in this coming year.”
Andy and Rose
As usual we’re trying to raise a little extra money to put on a special Christmas for the current and past girls at ReVive. We’ll be throwing them a party along with buying them all some presents.
Would you be able to help out by contributing something? You can do so online by clicking on the relevant link:
From the UK: https://my.give.net/revivexmas16
We were thrilled to welcome Brazilian Olympic swimmer Joanna Maranhão to ReVive last week. She came to talk to our girls about how she was sexually abused as a nine year old… and how, despite still living with the effects of that abuse, was able to overcome it to become a very successful athlete.
Her talk was challenging and inspiring.
ReVive USA has been open for a few months now… If you are currently based in the US and would like to financially support our work in Brazil then you can do so in the following way:
Send a cheque made payable to ‘Revive International’ to
ReVive International, 4926 Malibu dr, paradise, ca, 95969
To receive your tax break for non-profit donations then please do include your details with the cheque. If in doubt send an email to email@example.com
We’re sorry for not putting this news up sooner here (it’s been up for a while on our social media sites) but the extension is ready! Yay! The space is amazing and it’s already being used by two groups to run dance sessions with the girls. We’ve also used the space for staff meetings, training sessions and even cinema nights for the girls. Our Technical Team – psychologist, social worker along with a few others – have moved into their new office and they’re also making the most of the other room – a private meeting room – to speak with the girls and their families.
Thanks to all who made this extension possible!
The beginning of this week brought us some much needed rest and soaking up the vitamin D!
Sunday morning we went up to old Olinda town for a look round the shops in daylight and breakfast out with Andy and Rose to a quaint hotel called Pousada do Ampora, full of character! It was a traditional Brazilian breakfast – meats, cheeses, fruit, coffee, eggs, tapioca and cake! Needless to say we did not need any lunch. The surroundings of us were so beautiful and peaceful – I would recommend the hotel to stay in if you ever find yourself in Olinda!
During this time we also visited Andy and Rose’s friends who own a shop in Olinda and are Sofia and Julia’s godparents. Dom and Heather spent some time in Brazil before deciding to move out to Olinda and begin their own social enterprise business. The shop is called Beeconomics and hosts their own brand called “Okira”. The idea behind their business is that the brand is eco friendly cosmetics using honey from Brazilian stingless bees. All the products use natural ingredients. Furthermore their business is designed to help the entire community by offering apprenticeship opportunities for those who have finished school and not likely to get offered jobs. This may be something that is very useful for some of the girls in ReVive as they grow up. The products are also all incredible – they smell amazing and look so professional! Their website is below if you would like to find out more:
Sunday afternoon we hopped in the combi with Andy, Rose and their little girls and drove down to Muro Alto – a popular holiday destination for Brazilians. We drove right through Recife which is just huge! We were driving for over an hour before we came to the end of the city, then we drove past dense rainforest which Andy informed me is an extension of the Amazon! Then, just as we were driving past the oil refinery, we burst a tyre.
This was a bit of a tense moment, but about 5 minutes later at the right time a helpful man who was on his way to tend to an accident saw us and helped us out. Rose, Abi and the girls went with him – there turned out to be no accident(!) – and we waited for the tow-truck. A particularly funny/hairy moment was when 4 of us, had to squeeze into 2 seats in the front of the tow-truck. Andy was practically on the driver’s knee and definitely on top of the gear stick, and I was sat on Rosy and Sophie’s knee squished against the front window. Rosy had her arms around me as a seat belt and held on tight (sorry mum!) As I have said before, there is no health and safety in Brazil! Thankfully we were all sorted out and back on the road again in no time. Of all the places to break down too we were on a well lit road and someone was there to help us. It could have been a lot more dangerous!
Once we got there, only an hour later than planned, Andy and Rose are fortunate to have a friend who lends them the beach house whenever it is free. We were the only people in the complex and the house was incredible! It was quite a shock for us to sleep with air con and without a mosquito net! The beach was beautiful and practically like paradise – the water was so clear and still – a natural lagoon. The time here was spent relaxing and catching up on sleep. It was great to spend more time with Andy and Rose and get to know them even better than we have done. This morning we also visited Porto de Galinhas which was a nice trip out. It translates as the “Port of Chickens” and refers to the slaves coming over to this port in cages. There are lots of chicken statues around the port all wearing different costumes. It’s a quirky little attribute, even if the reason behind it isn’t a good one. After buying lots of Havianas we went back to the beach house for a last minute spot of sunbathing! We stayed here until this afternoon when we sleepily travelled back! This evening we are off to Spettus – an all you can eat meat restaurant that has had nothing but the highest praise! Definitely looking forward to it!
Kelly was born in a very poor place and was not looked after by her family. Kelly was practically living on the streets – they didn’t even have beds. Kelly has two other sisters who her mum loves, but her mum told her that she did not love her and that she wasn’t her daughter. She was brought to another home, and then to the ReVive house, but sadly ran away from here to live with her aunty who is a prostitute. Kelly had a really bad time there. Kelly was brought back to the ReVive house.
Kelly is a quiet girl, lacking confidence (she won’t even look in a mirror) who has taken her time in warming to us and opening up to us. Rosy managed to have a very in depth conversation with her just this weekend. Kelly acknowledged that ReVive was the best place for her – the reason for this is that she feels loved here, and she has never felt that before. It’s conversations like this that stress the importance of the work of ReVive.
For those who pray:
Apologies for a later posting and 2 blogs to read, but lots has been happening, and I have also been without wifi for the past 2 days so posting has been delayed! Another longer term volunteer arrived on Wednesday too, called Abi, and she will be staying for 4 months.
Closing the ReaViva Olympics:
From Wednesday to Friday last week, we spent our time finishing off some of the Olympic Games for the girls. We also spent some time teaching them a dance to “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake for our Olympics closing ceremony where we performed the dance and handed out medals to the girls. This was a lot of fun, and one evening we even christened the new dance studio by learning in there – I felt like a proper dancer with the ballet bar and mirrors! At the closing ceremony we recognised all the girls achievements and their different personalities by awarding them each an extra medal for the things that they should be proud of about their character. It has been amazing to see their individual personalities shine through even in the short time that we have been here and I think they all felt very special afterwards.
During the end of this week we also spent some time making “Fifteens” (Northern Irish cakes) with them, and decorating their own bunting. We even have some activities left over to leave behind with us for the girls to do! As always, we managed to complete some of the painting on the outside of the building too! For one very tall section we enlisted Andy’s help and he managed to reach – there is no health and safety here!
On Thursday afternoon, Sophie’s friend, Mariana, who met her briefly in the Uk a few years ago but who now lives back in Recife, took us out for the afternoon to show us some museums and a spot of Brazilian culture.
We visited two museums, one (I think!) was very colourful and about a community of Brazilians who live elsewhere but live like the old end days (a bit like the Amish community), the other was the museum of Favro (which is a type of dance that is famous for the Perbambuco state here, particularly in the carnival.
We got to write on the walls in this museum, and also got to see many carnival flags and banners from the parades. Olinda old town is famous for its carnival so this was good to see! We then went to a big book shop in Recife and had an ice cream by the sea – it reminded me of Newcastle quayside!
On the Streets:
Late Friday night saw Andy, Salamao and us girls hit the two main streets in Olinda in the combi, offering sandwiches, coffee and water to the homeless. Most of these people were drunk or high and asleep. This was a particularly special evening for me as I felt at home with the work we were doing, despite being frustrated by the language barrier. It was horrible to see people living the way they did, but I enjoyed meeting the different characters – some of them in very high spirits, despite their circumstances. I didn’t take any photos of this work as I felt it would be inappropriate to those we met.
White Knuckles Rides:
Saturday saw us take the girls to the theme park in the afternoon! This was a gift for the girls from a supporter of the project. As usual we spent the morning doing nails and the ReVive salon, but the girls were super excited for going to the theme park on the outskirts of Recife. Lots of them will have never seen anything like it before – it was a very loud day! We went from about 2-8pm. Once it got dark all the rides lit up and played their music louder. The Brazilians sing along and dance whilst on the rides – it was like being in a nightclub, but great fun! One of the girls who so often tries not to smile particularly enjoyed herself one of the rides and that was great to see. Afterwards we had a small amount of vomiting from those who had been too stubborn to sit out even though they felt terrible! Talk about making the most of an opportunity!
Jenny and Grace are sisters who were physically abused by their mum. Their mother was extremely aggressive towards them – the girls have visible scars from the abuse that they suffered. Their mothers partner also abused them. The old judge wanted the girls to go back to live with their mum despite ReVive knowing that she wasn’t safe for them to be with. Grace suffers from bipolar disorder and it is because of this that none of their extended family wants to take them in. These sisters are two of the brightest personalities in the house. We have come to get to know two funny, caring and intelligent girls who love to see others have a great time. Despite their abuse, they are outgoing and adventurous girls! There is concern over the future for the girls as they are some of the older girls in the house. Jenny however is taking extra courses to try and give her better chances at a good future which I sincerely hope they will both have following their time at ReVive.
Things to pray for:
…and we certainly hope it won’t be the last! This Monday saw us begin our ReaViva Olympics with the girls. It has been a fun week so far, filled with activity and sunshine.
Let the Games Begin:
Monday morning and Tuesday afternoon saw us take some of the girls to the beach to begin scoring for our Olympic Games! The girls really enjoyed being out of the house, even if some of the physical activity was a bit much! Andy has stressed that he would like to encourage the girls to do more sports and exercise – we hope that this gave them a taster that it can be fun! We started with some high jump and long jump into the sand, moved on to a tug of war (the rope broke they were that strong!), did some relay races, played volleyball, throwing and even got out the colourful parachute which the girls enjoyed playing games on. Some of the girls needed a bit of encouragement to play but we found that they watched each other and decided to get involved. It has been nice to see some of them growing in confidence in this area and learning from each other. The heat meant that we needed to take frequent water breaks and have breaks to cool our feet off in the ocean to soothe us from the burning sand! Doing the games has especially shown us each of the girls characters – I am pretty sure that there could be some athletes in the house if they keep at it!
On Monday afternoon we began painting on the outside of the house – the green garage doors needed a repaint and we also started on repainting the outside of the house yellow! It is hot and sweaty work but we happily got on with some tunes to sing along to. Rosy even braved the heights to stand on the ledge of the upper floor, much to my horror but she did a great job. We were also helped out by Gordo who also enjoys a sing-along whilst scaling the walls! There is still lots of painting to do so we will be continuing this throughout the week.
Monday evening saw us lead a devotional with the girls – this time looking at the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz. We asked the girls to get involved with acting this out – much hilarity was had by all but we think they connected with the point of it and the different ways Boaz reflects God’s love and protection.
Monday evening also saw us with a visitor to our toilet – a nice little frog who came to say hello. Rosy nicely flushed him back to where he came from. Sadly on my way into the shower I found another little friend who was watching me on the shower curtain. Well this nearly finished me off and it was left to Rosy who disposed of him in one of our drinking cups – much to the horror of the Brazilian staff. We did our best to disinfect the cup. Finally we had another visitor on his way up to our room a bit more formally via the steps. This time he was flicked off with a broom whilst I hid inside the main house. From now on the toilet lid is staying firmly closed… 🐸👍🏻
Testing the Tapioca:
Yesterday evening we took a little trip up to old Olinda town – cobbled streets and terracotta roofs. We treated ourselves each to a sweet and a savoury tapioca wrap, and of course a Guarana! It was delicious street food – ate in the company of Gilda who was very efficiently running the street food stall. She could only be described as the Peggy Mitchell of the tapioca world. The taste is hard to describe – it looks like a prawn cracker, has the texture of Yorkshire pudding, but is also very salty! It tasted good!
This morning also saw us making smoothies with the girls. This went down a storm with the girls and the staff! Iracy (Rose and Rosely’s mum, the cook and mum for everyone else here too), was in heaven! Gordo especially enjoyed this and sat down to enjoy his in the sun! We will be doing this again this afternoon with the remaining girls in between the painting.
Iracy and Gordo enjoy their smoothies!
Tonight will also hopefully see us hitting the streets of Olinda in the combi to help the homeless. A few of the girls have even been found and brought the the house this way. I hope that this will be a real experience for us to learn and show the people we meet a small taster of God’s love for them. Hopefully this will take place as plans often change!
Anna first came to Revive over a year ago. Both her parents had died and she had technically been living with her granmother but spent her days going from one person’s house to another between going to various parties where she would take a lot of drugs. It had been a struggle for her to adapt to the change in her life when she came and unfortunately she ran away. She then became pregnant but sadly lost the baby at 5 months. After the loss of her baby she was then taken to a governmental home again where she specifically requested to be taken back to Revive as she believed that only there could she make a difference to her life. Anna is one of the eldest girls and has a funny, sensitive and bubbly personality. Anna is clearly still grieving for her baby and will be for the rest of her life, she still has some of her baby’s clothes in her room. Our prayer for her is that she can rest in God’s peace and love as he heals her from this ordeal.
For those who pray: