The Advance Project Profile: Shade and Fresh Water - Brazil
Adults who benefited from the ministry of Shade and Fresh Water as children often return as volunteers.
Maria watched the children dance and recognized the joy in their eyes as they spun and moved across the room, practicing to upbeat music. She remembered being one of them, years before she grew up and became a lawyer.
Wanting to give back to her community, Maria volunteered to be a dance coordinator for Shade and Fresh Water project in Brazil (Advance #11580A). She was saved from danger when she was a child and wants the same safety net for children and teenagers, ages 6-14, who are living on the streets.
The Shade and Fresh Water project began in 2000 as a national network of after-school programs to help at-risk children and teens who were prone to be involved in drugs, crime and prostitution. The project helps them to build character and develop a value system through the various biblical and educational programs, including Christian education, academic instruction and sports and recreation.
Within the last 10 years, the number of project sites has doubled and more than 3,000 children and teens are benefiting from the program.
"Ninety percent of the programs are run by volunteers," said Gordon Greathouse, who worked with the project while serving as a missionary in Brazil. He is now a missionary-in-residence at the General Board of Global Ministries. "The volunteers were motivated by the same goals and they responded as local missionaries to a local problem," Greathouse said.
The Shade and Fresh Water project also trains volunteers, encourages congregations of the Methodist Church of Brazil to be involved with at-risk children in their communities and offers small grants to local projects for materials and equipment to sustain their programs.
A national network of afterschool programs serves at-risk children from 6 to 14 years old in Brazil.
A national committee meets regularly to manage the development of the Shade and Fresh Water Project network, which coordinates fundraising and the leadership team planning. It also provides training to allow volunteers to improve their skills.
Maria and other volunteers are grateful for the Shade and Fresh Water Project leaders and teachers who helped them when they were living on the streets. She hopes that the children who are benefiting from the programs today will one day also give back to the community.