Changing Children's Lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil

At Cultural Care's 2017 National Training Conference, we recognized an amazing au pair, Mari Peixoto, for her outstanding contribution to Kids First through her One Dollar Changes Lives campaign. Mari grew up near a favela in Sao Paulo, Brazil – and before coming to the U.S. as an au pair, she volunteered with an organization called CEDECA where she was able to share her love of art with children in need.

In honor of Mari’s incredible work, Cultural Care Kids First Foundation announced that we would provide funding for an arts program through CEDECA in Mari’s home country of Brazil. Along with Mari, we invited one of our most outstanding local childcare consultants – Andrijana Valladares – to join us on our trip, in recognition of her exceptional contributions to Kids First.

  The Kids First team with the children of the favela

The Kids First team with the children of the favela

The Kids First team with the children of the favela

Together, the team facilitated an interactive art project and coordinated a large donation of books, arts & crafts supplies and much-needed funds to help the children of the favela. It was a moving experience for all, filled with gratitude, creativity and love.

Take it from Andrijana herself: "I feel very fortunate that I got such a unique opportunity to travel to Brazil as a Kids First Ambassador and to spend some time with children from several organizations. Children that we met did not stop smiling despite unimaginable hardships which they are facing on a daily basis. Many of these kids live in very poor conditions not having basic necessities, not many (if any) opportunities – and it takes a great deal of courage, strength, love and hope to keep going and these kids have it.”

  Waiting for the t-shirts to dry

Waiting for the t-shirts to dry

Waiting for the t-shirts to dry

  Admiring the final product

Admiring the final product

Admiring the final product

“I feel very lucky to be part of the lives of these children if even for a moment. I was reminded how small things in life matter and how giving is actually getting. When you give (not necessarily just material things) you actually get so much more in return. It doesn't take so much to make an impact on someone and I hope that the time we spent will give more strength and hope – and that visits like these will be reminder for them that they are worth, they matter and also they are many people who believe in them and did not give up on them.”

  The Kids First team with the children of the favela

The Kids First team with the children of the favela

The Kids First team with the children of the favela

“Struggle, sadness, joy, happiness, courage, strength, dedication, new friendship – in short, these words describe how I feel about the trip. Part of my heart stayed in Brazil.”

  From left to right, in Kids First t-shirts: Andrijana, Susan, Bettina, Mari

From left to right, in Kids First t-shirts: Andrijana, Susan, Bettina, Mari

From left to right, in Kids First t-shirts: Andrijana, Susan, Bettina, Mari

Thank you to all the generous host families, au pairs, friends and LCCs who donated and helped make this trip to Brazil possible!