ABOUT: Children of Bahia
In our research and preparation for this trip, we have learned of the heartbreaking quality of life for many Brazilians. The country of Brazil is afflicted with devastating social problems caused by an enormous economic gap between rich and poor. The majority of the population lives by a level of poverty unfamiliar to most Americans. The average family household subsists on a monthly income of less than $200. Public services are on the verge of collapse. Low-income patients are regularly left to die in public hospital emergency rooms due to a shortage of doctors. The public school system is poorly funded, and only a small percentage of students graduate.
In the city Salvador, most of the population live in “favelas,” communities of shacks built on vacant land on the outskirts of major cities. Such communities often lack basic services that we take for granted, such as electricity, running water, and plumbing. Unemployment and crime are especially pervasive within favelas and throughout most major Brazilian cities. Homeless children roam the streets begging and pick-pocketing, while more seasoned criminals regularly engage in car-jacking, armed-robbery, and kidnapping. Crime in Brazil has become increasingly violent in the last decade.
Such unfortunate living conditions have taken an especially grim toll on children. Some sources estimate that there are up to 8 million street children in Brazil, who have been abandoned by their families, mainly for reasons of poverty, AIDS, drugs or violence. Once abandoned, they must resort to desperate means of subsistence, such as begging, theft, prostitution, or drug dealing. Drug abuse is common, particularly glue sniffing, as the children need a distraction from their reality; however, this has a tragic, downward spiral effect on their health, causing life-long health problems and draining their already scarce resources.
The charity organization "Children of Bahia" is committed to providing basic necessities to impoverished youth, through shelter, food, medical care, education, and the simple attention that they deserve and need. "Children of Bahia" also helps mothers and families to improve sanitation, nutrition, and healthcare, especially those with living with HIV/AIDs. Instuicao Beneficente Conceicao Macedo (IBCM), a faction of Children of Bahia, is a home located deep in the favelas of Salvador. They are a shelter that provides residence, schooling and medication specifically for homeless children and mothers living with HIV/AIDs.
During our stay in Brazil,we worked with Children of Bahia, specifically the local branch IBCM, a home for children with HIV/AIDS, introducing the children to classical music and our instruments, as well as raising R$1870 through benefit concerts. We are currently working on establishing a connection between Children of Bahia and Neojiba, so these children may one day find a musical outlet for expression.