Projeto Dom De Amor: The Gift of Love

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After weeks of trying to find an NGO that would welcome us, we found home in Dom de Amar. Situated in the North Zone, this NGO situated just out of Curicica was a reminder of why I came to Rio in the first place. The journey to Dom de Amor took a little over 2 hours and 3 bus rides - but it was worth every traffic jam, heat stroke and getting caught in those temperamental Rio thunderstorms.



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We were instantly warmly greeted by Tia Chelo, the owner of the charity. The charity is built around two houses, one for kindergarteners/ babies and the other for children aged 5 and above.  She lead us into the house where we would be spending the majority of our days teaching and playing with the kids.

IMG_7589Wake up sleepy bunnies...

Woken from their slumber, the kids woke up curious and a little confused as to who these weird strangers were...which didn't last long! Try to find me underneath the pile of humans.

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We got to work straight away. Over the course of the remaining 4 weeks, we taught a range of social projects revolving around multiculturalism, human rights, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

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Here we are teaching them the importance of recycling water and materials  by incorporating educational material in a fun and interactive way. One of their favourite games was the Water Cup challenge. They were split into two teams, each with a cup filled with water. In turns, they had to race the opposing team without spilling any water from their cup and the team with the most water at the end, wins. Simple yet effective.

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In all honesty, the language barrier was difficult. The children would run up to me brimming with excitement ready to share their story only to receive a confused look back in return. Over a period of time I picked up general words and phrases.. and of course the translator app helped.

On some days, I would go over to the other house were the nursery was kept and helped take care of the babies. This precious dumpling was my favourite as she always had a smile on her face!

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Working hard or hardly working?

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Mini hulks

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Working with these children has been one of the most inspiring experiences in my 22 years. Not only did I teach them but they also taught me more than I could have ever imagined. Coming from such poor backgrounds, these children were always happy. Even with the little things, such as an extra banana for lunch or another piece of bread.

When we asked them, 'Out of all the things in the world, what are the 6 most important things to you?' Their answers truly surprised me.

1. Clean water

2. Education

3. Freedom from abuse

4. Clean air

5. Food

6. Healthcare

It struck me that these children don't need money or fancy things, they just need a lot of attention and someone to love them.

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Even for the short period that I was there I know that I have made a positive impact. They are honestly the most affectionate, happy and smartest children I have ever met and are filled with so much love to give. Leaving them was heartbreaking, but I've been so privileged to have been a part of their lives and be their 'Tia' Maria (Auntie Maria). It wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for my amazing team and wonderful NGO.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Projeto Dom De Amar, I can't wait to see you again!

IMG_8432Our last dinner with Tia Chello and her son Thiago
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