The Association to Help Girls and Boys from the Praça de Sé
The Help Association (henceforth AA) began as a project of the Youth Ministry of the Catholic Church in 1992. That was the time of excessive violence against children in the streets: murders, attacks, abuses of civil rights by police and private actors. AA came into existence to monitor human rights abuses and to defend the children. Its model was quite simple: adults, particularly human rights professionals, nuns, and priests, would spend the night in places where street kids congregated, under the assumption that police would be more reluctant to shoot a kid if a priest might get caught in the cross-fire.
Today, when violence against street kids is not as systematic and kids no longer congregate in one or two places, AAs mission has changed. Now they do much more legal advocacy and social work. As with many programs in Brasil, AA runs workshops for street kids, everything from art and photography to hip-hop. However, AA sees itself as serving the most incorrigible of street kids, those who refuse to return to their families and so cannot participate in a program like Travessia. They run their programs in the afternoon so that drug-addled kids can sleep away the morning. For the AA, recovery is a slow process more about encouragement and lack of judgment than about the more explicit motivations promoted by the Pedagogia do desejo.
Serving the most difficult kids does not mean enabling them to stay on the street. AAs centers have clear rules and attempt to show that there can be a better life off the street; kids may not simply come to shower and eat, then leave. AA also tries to help kids get past the disposable ideology of the street -- they are not allowed to thrown away their clothes; instead, they wash them.
AA works with families, but perhaps less than most other organization, because often the children refuse even to try to reconcile with abusive parents.
Though AA and street kids have struggled with the zero tolerance policing of the city government (now ending since the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores, Democratic Socialist) has come to power), they have had some positive relations with the municipality. Years ago, they worked with the subway administration to allow street educators into the tunnels at night; this way, AA could better serve the kids and subway security did not have to arrest the kids. Unfortunately, this experiment ended with a new subway security chief.
AA works closely with the Movimento Sem Terra. Not only are their educational and social goals similar, both groups want to strengthen families and prevent kids from leaving for the street in the first place.
Rua Djalma Dutra 70
Luz, São Paulo, SP
tel-fax 011 229 3935
Contact: Everaldo Oliveira (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org)