One of the highlights of Marcelo Armstrong’s favela tour for us was a visit to Para Ti, a very special NGO that was started by Italian Franco Urani, a former President of Fiat Brazil in the 1970s, and his wife Giuliana.
The couple lived in the neighbourhood around which the favela Vila Canoas grew and saw firsthand the problems of the community. Giuliana told us how she recalled hearing screams during the night after heavy rain, and she and Franco and their daughter went outside with torches and saw the devastation caused by shacks that had been swept down the hill from mudslides.
“When they needed something – only when they were very desperate – families would appear on our doorstep, to ask for medicine or a ride to the hospital,” Giuliana tells us. When two tiny children appeared at her door one night, and the authorities later came to take them away upon discovering they were orphaned after their grandmother died, Giuliana and Franco took them in. And so began Para Ti.
Over the years, Para Ti has funded hundreds of projects, from the day care and after-school centre that we visited to sewerage and housing projects, and Giuliana’s masterpiece, a crèche that cares for hundreds of babies and toddlers.
How can you help?
- If you do Marcelo’s tour, take pens, pencils, writing materials, books, toys, a soccer ball, or sporting gear for the kids. They love kicking around a football.
- Donate money – always welcome!
- Consider sponsoring a child – you’d be surprised how little it costs to feed and clothe a child in a favela for a year.
- Volunteer! Para Ti is happy for you to spend a few hours just playing ball with the kids and teaching them some English skills.