3rd letter from Bride in Brazil

Sao Paulo 11/12/2022
Greetings from Sao Paulo and wishing each one the blessings of Christmas. For me this year, the
journey of meeting God in humanity has indeed been very enriching and also challenging. There are
so many examples of God’s Spirit working quietly in peoples’ lives, reaching out to make life better
for others… poor people helping poor people….and surely this is the celebration of Christmas. My
time working with the projects in Umburanas was marked by something very unusual there…..lots of
heavy rain every night and sometimes by day too. It has been a year of extraordinary rain in this
region of the Northeast. Nobody grumbles even though it brought lots of mud and flooding
everywhere because most of the roads are dirt roads, even in the town itself.
In the city of Salvador, 9 hours from Umburanas, I visited a project in a very poor ‘favela’ area of the
city. It was set up over 40 years ago by two lay missionaries from France who are still involved, now
in their older years of course. For many years it was supported financially by their families in France,
who now are elderly, in nursing homes etc so donations have dropped very considerably. It is
amazing how the project has been able to keep going for so long with no State support. They work
with very disadvantaged children and it was great to see the range of creative activities they are
offering to young boys and girls who otherwise would drift to the streets where there is a lot of
violence, gangs etc. As everywhere the children are so proud to be able to show what they are
learning. The project is coordinated by a young Afro-Brazilian woman who herself attended the
Project’s activities when she was a child. It is great to see a local person like her able to study and
gain University qualifications, when so many odds are against her. This Association also runs a
creche in another area, which with State support, cares for 160 children daily aged 3 – 5 years.
When we visited it was just after lunch time….there were rooms upon rooms full of small children
asleep on mattresses on the floor….I thought it would never end! I wondered what it would be like
when they woke up, but we had to leave to go elsewhere before that!!
In Belo Horizonte I had the joy of meeting a young woman from Umburanas who entered our
Congregation and left after 5 years. She came from a very poor family in a rural village. They had 7
children and the mother was rearing them alone on a small piece of land. The father, an alcoholic,
had left the family. After she left the Congregation, she went to live in this city, where she worked
and studied and finally graduated in Physical Education, with support from Ireland. Little by little,
she brought her sister and two of her brothers from their rural village to the ‘big city’ where each
one got work. Then she brought her father whom she helped to join A.A., got employment for him
and today he is a changed person. It was a great joy for me to meet him after so many years,
because I had never met him sober when I knew him previously. So the ways of God are surely
mysterious….the charism of our Congregation for the family, is still alive and active in this young
woman’s life, re-structuring her own family in a most amazing way.
I visited the CESAF project which has a beautiful music programme for children and young people.
They have a ‘mini’ orchestra, and it was a joy to see young people displaying their talents for music.
The project is run entirely by volunteers who had worked originally with one of our sisters who died
of a brain tumour. They have been very faithful if keeping the vision of social transformation alive in
the families of these children, offering them counselling and psychotherapy support. In Sao Paulo I
visited a Women’s’ project which offers skills training for employment. They do beautiful work. I am
now at our sisters house in Tabao, having a few days of Advent preparation before visiting the final
two projects. Then it will be homeward bound….from the 30 + heat into the snow/frost of Ireland!

Wishing each one the peace of Christmas and many blessings for 2023. Love from Bride