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There are still children on the streets.

Updated: 5 days ago



April 12th was International Day for Street Children all around the world! Initiated by the Consortium for Street Children, a global alliance acting as the voice for street children, it ensures their rights to services, resources, care and opportunities.


This year’s theme centres around what makes street-connected children feel like they “belong” in their communities, countries and cultures.


Fernando and Nury Biasoli run the Marco Zero project in Recife, Northeast Brazil. For 20 years this couple have dedicated their lives to reaching out and working with street-connected children, ensuring that they feel loved, looked out for, cared for and that they matter to Society.


This year, I had the opportunity to visit the streets of Recife to see how Fernando and Nury’s important work enables street-connected children to feel a sense of belonging and importance. When we arrived in the trusty project van to one of the central squares in Recife, I saw a group of young people sniffing glue. In the same place very young children were playing ball. The contrast between the two activities could not have been greater. 


My heart felt sad! The scene through the van window was something I had only ever seen on the television or over the Internet. Now, here I was in the midst of children and young people whose daily experiences are deeply connected to the streets of this city. I wanted to cry! 


The door of Project Marco Zero’s trusty Combi van flies open.  We are immediately surrounded by a group of eager and smiling children who are very happy to see us. It is clear that the team are well-known by the children. We sit with them on the pavement. We take our games bag with us.  We play games with them. We draw with them.  We talk to them. We listen to them. We tell them stories. We spend time with them.


I discover that children and young people are on the streets for many different reasons.  For companionship, for food, to escape violence at home.  Some are as young as 4 or 5 years old. Some are alone and some are with siblings.


The Marco Zero team don’t offer food, but they do offer the ‘long-haul’ commitment of week in and week out visits to different areas of the city.  They provide a connection to these children, unconditional love and support.  They show that the children matter and are cared for.  They offer practical support in so many different ways; principally trying to reconnect these chidlren with their families and communities.  The arrival of the van brings hope and joy.  It brings a sense of belonging and family.


It is shocking that there are still children on the streets of Recife today. 

It was an eye-opening experience to spend time with the Marco Zero team.  From these experiences Happy Child International is fully aware of the issues that lead to children ending up on the streets.   We believe that our partner projects providing education and opportunities, prevention of and protection from violence and family care play a part in preventing more vulnerable children and young people ending up on the streets of this major city.



  • Written by Priscila Assis working with the Giving Hands Network, Vicosa, Brazil and supporting Happy Child International with Social Media and Communications

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