CEDEP began in the mid 1980s as a program to help poor rural immigrants to the state capital of Florianópolis, and has shifted its emphasis several times as the needs of the citys poor have changed. Dignity and justice have been the common goals through these changes, and today the program works with children at risk of homelessness.
Liberation theology animates CEDEP and informs its methods. Work is centered on base communities in poor neighborhoods, promoting local leadership and placing the poor into the position of subject of history. When working with children, CEDEP tries to value the identity, history, values, and culture of poor children. They have found that many children leave for the street or become drug traffickers because they hate who they are; instead, CEDEP teaches children to recognize their strengths and value who they are. The program also works with parents, so they can teach their children the best parts of their history.
CEDEP believes that recognition is one of the fundamental aspects of childhood, and that children who are invisible within their families and communities will seek someplace to be visible. When a child cannot see h/erself in the mirror of his parents eyes, or in the media, or by being valued by the church or other actors in the community, s/he will run to the street. On the street, a child is visible and recognized -- even if feared and hated. For this reason, CEDEP insists on teaching parenting skills, on showing civil society how to value children, and on giving children a more central role in their own schooling.
To encourage recognition and self esteem, CEDEP began an exchange program with a school in Italy. Students exchange letters to teach each other about their lives and cultures; CEDEP has found that the Brazilian children are thrilled to find that rich Italian children envy them. Through the envy of the Italian children, the Brazilians learn to value the samba, the kites that they make out of recycled paper and plastic, football... parts of life they had taken for granted. According to CEDEP, this work teaches children to resist the cultural denigration of their existence.
CEDEP teaches children, whether they are on the street, in the favela, or if they are the children of drug dealers (as many are) to resist and criticize the values that their world gives them. Children can be a point of resistance to the dominant culture, and CEDEP tries to encourage this.
CEDEP currently serves 400 children from several different favelas.
Visconde de Ouro Prêto 308
Terreo do Sindicato dos Bancários
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina
(as of January 2003, this email address did not work)
Contacts: César and Miguel