Hoping that you are all healthy and enjoying life as this message reaches you.
6 months ago I went to Canavieiras, Brasil for one month to work at the Julia Centre, which Julia’s parents started after she was killed almost 5 yrs ago. It was a heart-stopping moment I know none of us will ever forget, but Julia’s parents were determined that her memory would continue with a positive energy and worked incredibly hard to raise funds and build the Julia Centre.
The project, as a reminder, is dedicated to impoverished children in the community to provide them a safe place to learn, play, and develop as school is only provided for a half day in Bahia. Rather than being on the streets the children have a place to learn further math and reading/writing skills, do a variety of physical exercises including judo, volleyball, and capoiera, and be nurtured by a group of passionate and skilled educators on both academic and character building spectrums.
I spent my days at the Julia Centre in the classroom assisting the teachers to manage their classes, working with the kids on their homework, playing different sports with them, preparing their snacks, and enjoying the company of these amazing kids who are so appreciative of the opportunity of going to the Centre. For the younger kids, I showered them and put them into nap time. For kids who come from such challenging backgrounds, the stability, cleanliness, and regular source of nutrition makes an immeasurable difference in their quality of life, and what they ‘dare to dream’.
The kids are welcoming, smart, loving – it was eye-opening. Before my first home visit I could never have imagined the conditions the children live in – of the deepest poverty, sometimes in filth and with little to no supervision, some with mentally ill parents unable to care for them properly. But the kids were so happy and healthy at the Centre – this is the difference that the Centre makes in their lives.
The project is deeply involved in the community and teachers and administration do regular home visits to provide support to the families and listen to their questions, suggestions, and concerns. I additionally saw many parents of the children volunteering at the Centre, cleaning and cooking, helping out wherever and however they can. I see this as evidence of how much the parents value the Centre, and the parents are often at the school for events, giving the Centre further opportunities to build their relationships with the families and talk with often very young and uneducated parents about the kids and ideas on continuing development. Not only that, the Centre works with the parents regarding how they themselves can improve their job opportunities through continuing education, etc.
I know that you might not have the time to go down to Canavieiras and work on this inspiring project, but I highly recommend you do so someday!
Right now the project needs crucial resources to continue. If you could contribute to the Julia Centre, and reach as deeply as you can, it will all add up to make a huge difference to enabling this project to continue to aid children who all not only know Julia’s name and her story, but look up to her as an example for her love of sports and life.
Julia’s memory, through Cecilia and Bill’s vision and determination, can help these hugely deserving kids to stay off the streets and in turn hopefully someday give back to their community in the same way as the passionate teachers and administrators of the Centre.
Thank you for reading & I hope you have a wonderful fall, living and sincerely enjoying life every day as much as Jules did.
For further information / questions please just ask Cecilia or myself, and take a look at the project website: http://www.juliathomsonmemorial.com/