Pastoral da Criança’s then 155,000 volunteers were honored by The World’s Children’s Prize in 2003 for their unpaid but successful work to reduce mortality and under-nourishment among Brazil’s children.
Pastoral da Criança’s teach families how to take care of their children and identify the ones who need special care. They also work to reduce violence against women and children. Thanks to the work of the volunteers, families become part of a helping community, and can thus improve their own situation.
In 2003, when Pastoral da Criança was commended, Brazil was one of the world’s most unequal countries. The gap between rich and poor is very wide today. Pastoral’s volunteers visit families’ homes to see if their children are under-nourished. They arrange Weighing Days once a month to see if children are growing as they should. They teach families how to cook nutritious, cheap food, and how to prepare Pastoral’s nutritive powder, which is made of nuts, eggshells, cassava and powdered milk.
The volunteers also show mothers how to recognise the commonest symptoms of childhood illness. They helped them put together a ’household pharmacy’ from local herbal medicines and showed them how to prevent and cure diarrhoea by always boiling children’s water, and mixing water, salt and sugar to relieve diarrhoea. They give support and advice to pregnant mothers and encourage parents to register and vaccinate their children. :
Photos: Tora Mårtens