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Escola Nossa Senhora das Gracas (Our Lady of Grace School), ECS/Youth/Adult Education Centre

Location: Saramandaia in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Project Overview: To purchase a community initiated preschool to remove the burden of rent and redirect meager local funds to the program, resulting in widening and enhancing the program for children and community.

Community Description: Saramandaia is a very poor district with low means of living, little education, and poor housing. Mothers and fathers try to find menial jobs to eke a living, and with many families broken, the mothers worry about feeding the children. They live in poorly constructed houses in congested neighborhoods and are faced regularly with a lack of security and their homes falling apart.

Project Description: In 1995, leaders in this community initiated a preschool program in a rented facility to enable children access to early education and the founding of Our Lady of Grace School. A beehive of volunteer energy has evolved serving over 90 children on a regular basis. In addition, the centre provides literacy and human development programs for adolescents and adults. A big problem is the rent for the facility, $12,000 Brazilian reals a year $7,000 Can) and subject to continuing increases. Small local donations barely keep up with the rent, leaving little for basic supplies, food and operating costs. Purchasing the school removed the burden of rent and redirect meager local funds to the program, resulting in widening and enhancing the program for children and community.

The Facility: The building is the current home of the program which served the people and program well. The size of the facility is 310.6 m2 and the property including a small garden to grow food is 284.6 m2. The facility is 3 stories, very solid, consisting of a reception area, a little chapel, 5 small classrooms, 4 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a small garden and play area.

Purposes and Objectives:

1.To engage professional teachers and volunteer assistants in serving the community.

2.To provide a pre-school education, social/ethical formation, and daily nutrition - a secure environment and holistic program of child development to enable disadvantaged children to grow in body and mental health, improving their cognitive development and capacity to learn.

3.To provide literacy classes for adolescents who have dropped out of schools.

4. To provide literacy classes for adults, as well as basic education, sewing, cooking, and crafts.

5.To provide income generation courses to improve employment opportunities.

6. To promote volunteerism enabling people to support each other in solving problems.

7.To promote valorization (the value) of aged people.

8. To improve norms, guidance, and evaluation by professional teachers in the community.

Planning: The planning has taken place by Analice Falcao Pereira and other community leaders, especially Maria Anade, Facao Pereira, with Frances Stang serving as advisory counsel. She has spent 30 years helping the people in Brazil improve their lives.

Purchase Cost of the Facility: 110,000 Brazilian Reals (about $60,000 Canadian funds). 

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