Jefferson, 16, is the eldest boy in the house. He lives with his mother, a stepfather and brother Johanes, 14, Ulises, 11, and 4-year-old Caleb. He does have an older sibling, but she has moved on to start her own family.
His mother, Josefa, is a pristine homemaker and despite the poverty and the hardships present in her community, she received the team from Happy Child International with a beautiful smile and many words of hope.
Josefa is 38 years old. Her husband became handicapped at 43 when he took a gunshot wound. Physical labour is not a possibility for him anymore and so, these days, the family of five survives on a disability pension and the money they receive from the government from a programme called Bolsa Família. The purpose of this programme is to prevent that children from low-income families abandon school in search of sustenance. Adding up both sources of income, the family receives about £274 a month, this means that each member of this household survives on £1.83 per day, just a little over the international poverty line established by the World Bank – 2.15 US dollars a day per person (or £1.83).
How do they make ends meet? They rely on social programmes focused on complementing their income with meals, helping them out when they need to gain access to health services, distributing among them donated clothes, used furniture, and the like.
However, what Happy Child International really desires is for these families to thrive, not just get by. And this is the reason, the visit to Josefa’s home was so inspiring. She told John Doddrell and Caroline Taylor: “What gives me hope are the opportunities my children are having, to get the advice, the coaching, the wisdom from the programmes they are involved in. I didn’t have these opportunities. My children now have them. I trust that they are receiving the best, I am very grateful for the people there”.
Build a house, raise my own children, help my mother, these are my dreams
Jefferson also offered his outlook on the future. He said he wants to grow to become a responsible adult, to be able to carry his own responsibilities, to engage in a profession that will help him to provide for a family. His last statement was specially surprising from a 16-year-old boy: “My dream is to have my own family and be a good father”.
That is precisely what Happy Child International stands for: opportunities for the young to realize their dreams and break the cycle of poverty.