About the charity Associação Criança Feliz (ACRIFE)
Associação Criança Feliz translates into English as ‘Happy Child Association’. ACRIFE was created in 2005 to promote better lives for children and empower them. ACRIFE’s philosophy is centred in the Brazilian Children’s Statute, which says that no child under the age of 13 years old should be engaged in work activities and every child should have access to information, education and the means to construct an adequate life in adulthood.
In Brazil poverty presents a great burden to children that on one hand are not exposed to activities and opportunities to develop their creativity and interest in education; and on the other hand are forced to engage in poorly paid work early in life, and thus denied a childhood.
This problem is worse in some areas than others. One of the less good areas is in the Sucuri district, Cuiaba, in the centre-west of Brazil. The ACRIFE founders recognized this problem in Sucuri and, through building a strong partnership with the local university, was able to carry out a socio-economic survey covering 70 families to initially identify Sucuri’s children’s wants and needs in answer to the question ‘How could the charity promote a better quality of life for these children?’
As a result of the initial survey and through building strong partnerships with local stakeholders the charity was able to build its own modest facilities and involve local businesses, entrepreneurs and health and other professionals to start working towards its goals of promoting a better life for children.
Promoting better life for children
So far the Charity has been able to offer:
- Access to basic health care facilities.
- Vocational courses for parents in car mechanics, hairdressing, catering services and professional cooking and plumbing, allowing them to improve household incomes.
- Activities for children: computer classes, drama, painting and drawing, storytelling, creative writing, English, percussion, dance, capoeira, and football as well as extra classes in maths and languages for those needing to catch up so that they can return to regular school attendance with their age group.
All of the courses are provided by skilled craftsmen and professionals – all volunteers who are committed to the charity’s philosophy.
In terms of health provision the charity has successfully managed to engage local health professionals on a voluntary basis. That allows the charity to offer regular dentistry services, and medical and nutritional check-ups. They are also working closely with the local Health authorities on vaccination awareness and delivery, and health education campaigns targeting the youth - such as sexual education, transmissible diseases, diet and nutrition.
They have conducted a nutritional assessment of the targeted children in order to monitor the impact of the charity’s activity. An epidemiological study to assess impact of activities is in preparation. Although quite new, ACRIFE has been able to create enough interest from the local authorities in Cuiaba as well as professionals to establish and consolidate the provision of services to children and their families without generating long term dependency.