Aldeia Juvenil (Children's Village), a project of the Universidade Católica de Goiás
Aldeia Juvenil is an extension program for the departments of psychology, social work, and education at the Universidade Católica de Goiás. It is undoubtedly one of the best programs in Latin America for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, and has compiled an extraordinary array of publications on excluded, abused, and street children. The professors and staff do direct service work, therapy, research, and teaching.
Professors and students at the University created Aldeia in 1982 as a way to build bridges between academic and direct service work. At that time, children were routinely imprisoned for being homeless or for minor offenses, and the program worked to overcome this history of institutionalization and to reintegrate the children into society. At the same time, as a department of the University, it trained students to work with children in various fields, from teaching to juvenile corrections.
At the beginning, Aldeia based its philosophy on Marx and the popular education developed by Paulo Freire and Makarenco; this revolutionary posture came as a response to the dictatorship of the previous decade. In the 1990s, Aldeia has become more oriented toward struggles for human and childrens rights, and more concerned with private as well as public violence; even so, it maintains ties with the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT, Democratic Socialist), which was elected to the municipal government in 2000.
Aldeia Juvenil believes that youth homelessness and the other problems of children in Brazil are organic and complex, and must be addressed as such. For this reason, their work is multi-disciplinary, running from the economics of families in the favelas to therapy to popular education to inter-familial dynamics.
Though Brazil can be very violent, very few NGOs and even fewer research institutes address the question of violence against children. Aldeia has turned much of its attention to filling this void, and uses many strategies to do so.
- Denouncing violations of human rights by police, private security, other public actors
- Denouncing domestic and sexual violence
- Direct therapy with perpetrators of domestic abuse
- Group therapy for victims and perpetrators
- Community education about domestic and sexual violence
- Helping children tell their stories in oral and written form
- Play therapy for young children
- Legal support
- Health care
In spite of this complex therapeutic network, Aldeia Juvenil attempts to prevent violence and victimization from being pathologized. They understand that domestic and sexual violence not a manichean struggle between evil and innocence, but a much more complicated dynamic (they use the philosophy of Michel Foucault to better understand it). They also want to prevent the child from developing the identity of victim, an identity that will cripple h/er for many years. Instead, they work to deconstruct the structure of power within the family, finding other solutions to the problems that created the abuse in the first place.
Training university students is central to the mission of Aldeia Juvenil. Many students want to work with children because they want to do charity; the program struggles to deconstruct this motivation, and to replace it with professionalism and a will to justice. Students who are drunk on pity help no one, is a refrain of the program. For this reason, training includes sociological and economic studies of why Brazil is what it is, reflection on the history of the category of child as weak and needing help, and the ideology of dependence on the government or the church. Aldeia teaches students that poor and abused children are subjects of their own history, not objects of charity. This reflection is always tied to practice with children at the Aldeia.
Rua J-59 Q148L22
tel 062 207 4145
fax 207 2721
Contacts: Maria Luiza Moura Oliveira (Malú), Sonia Gomes Souza
understanding social services for street kids in Latin America