In Buriti Bravo, a project has changed the lives of hundreds of needy children through social activities created by volunteers. This is the ‘House of Dreams’, which offers tutoring, music, arts and sports classes. All for free.
The idea was born out of a strong desire of 23-year-old Antonio Paolo, who had already decided to give up everything to dedicate himself exclusively to caring for Brazil’s needy children after doing similar work in Africa.
Disadvantaged children in Buriti Bravo also eat lunch or snacks at the project – Photo: Casa dos Sonhos
Two years ago, Casa dos Sonhos served only 70 children, and most of the work was done at Antonio’s grandfather’s house. But in support of volunteers and anonymous individuals who have contributed to the fundraising campaign, Casa has grown and now serves 250 children.
“We are building ballet and jiu-jitsu rooms through donations and have started a campaign to buy mats,” said Antonio.
Another recently launched action is ‘Sponsor a Child’, where a person can adopt a child with a minimum R $ 35 monthly fee. Currently, 28 volunteers contribute to the cause.
“I learn a lot about God in the project, obeying people, respecting adults and other things. I’m grateful for this project because it helps a lot at home and gives us basic food,” said Antonio Eduardo, 14, who is the son of this coconut breaker and Takes classes at Casa dos Sonhos.
Children learn to play instruments at Casa dos Sonhos – Photo: Casa dos Sonhos
Antonio’s story is inspiring
Antonio’s story began at the age of 12, when he started working and began tutoring in the backyard where he lived.
“I really wanted to fulfill my dream of owning a place and a car. So I moved to Sao Paulo to study and work. My family is humble, I can’t afford college. Arriving in Sao Paulo I got a scholarship. A month later I got a big one. I got a job in the company “, he remembers.
Antonio Paolo volunteering in Africa – Photo: Private archive
Antonio started out as a sales leader and soon became an assistant manager. It was then that he discovered a social project in Krakolandia in downtown Sao Paulo, where he began to change his life plan.
“I didn’t know what Krakowlandia was. When I got there, I was horrified to see the situation, and the first thing I saw was a child prostituting herself. I was scared and left, saying I would never set foot there again.” The following week, I started dreaming about that situation and started going to the project during my holidays, “he said.
Antonio Paolo dedicates his youth to helping needy children throughout Brazil and even abroad – Photo: Private Archive
Gradually, travel to Krakowlandia became frequent and there was a promotion to become a manager, but Antonio also decided not to accept.
“I could not bear to see the suffering of those children and I could do more and do more. I gave up my job, college and all my dreams and went to take care of the children in Cracolandia. Whenever there was a conflict, we went inside Cracolandia. I take the kids on the court and take them to the project. And once a bomb hits me, I fall in the middle of the collision. I can’t see anything because of the tear gas. I still have scars on my body. “
“I spent more than two years, I lay on the floor, ate sausage and rice for a year, and then I was invited to go to one of the most dangerous favelas projects in Rio de Janeiro. I wanted to help because it was so dangerous,” said Antonio.
Antonio Paolo working with riverbank children on the Amazon – Photo: Private archive
It took drug dealers six months to work with children, then two more months to work with children on the banks of the Amazon. Eventually, Antonio decided to move to South Africa, where he also did social work.
In 2019, the young man returned to Brazil and Maranhao, where he proposed to create a ‘Casa dos Sonhos’ project aimed at needy children without money. At Christmas 2020, Buriti at Bravo (Watch the video below)
Antonio Paolo and group Buriti provide basic Christmas baskets at Bravo