Sunday, April 3, 2016

ASPA Creche in Rocinha

In the last three weeks I have been organizing, separating and distributing donations to various school and daycares in Rocinha. During the months of December until the end of February we were very busy with tours so I had very little time to distribute the donations. Now things have calmed down and we are entering into a slow period. For the last 2 years we have been donating materials to the Castelinho Creche in Atalho, a sub-neighborhood higher up the hill in Rocinha. Ms. Leidy Martins is our contact at Castelinho and she mentioned that Creche ASPA in Boiadeiro could use some help.

I wanted to check out ASPA as its less than 5 minutes walk from my house. Ms. Martins gave me the contact person. The director is Carla Mariana and she works from 7am until 11:30am Monday-Friday as a volunteer and then after goes off to a regular paying job. She is a busy woman but I was able to meet with her.

We had a couple come on a tour with us a couple of weeks ago and they gave me 200 reais to be spent on supplies for a creche that needed help. After what Ms. Martins had told me, I decided to spend the money on supplies for ASPA. I want to thank the Kelly Family from Chicago, USA for their kind donation. The creche will put these materials to good use.

When I arrived at the Creche I was received by Carla the director and her Coordinator Suely. They gave me a tour of the creche. The first thing I noticed is it was very well taken care of. The building looked in good condition and it was clean. There were about 12-15 different rooms with different ages of children all being supervised by an adult. I had arrived when most of the children were napping.  Each of these rooms had their own bathroom facilities.

***Before taking any photos of ASPA facilities, I asked permission. Many of the workers did not want to be in photos and I explained to Carla and Suely beforehand that the story I wanted to write was to promote the creche and the importance of families having access to places like ASPA to care for their children.

Nap time for the children. I arrived about 11:15am and these two different rooms had children resting. The photo above this one is the room for the 2 year olds and this one directly above is the room for the 4 year olds.

Some of the children were eating their lunches all provided by a team of three ladies who cook for about 180 children. The kids get two meals a day and two snacks.

This is the kitchen are where the meals are prepared. Again, the kitchen was very clean. To the right of the kitchen was a pantry with foodstuffs for everyday meals.

This pantry is stocked by the donations of kind people. The creche itself has minimum support. Some families if the can pay, contribute 85 reais a month for the caring of the children. The city government gives a little but not much.

This is a small play area for the children. All the toys in the photo are donations.

When I went to the creche it was about 35 degrees outside. Its hot. There are fans in the daycare but most children are wearing just underwear, which you wouldn't see in a North American type daycare. It was explained to me that in tropical climate, it is humid and can be uncomfortable for the children. The children appeared to be happy and they were all clean. The photo above it a outdoor shower/bathing area surrounded by tall walls to ensure privacy. Upon entering the building, there is a big green gate and other security precautions in place to ensure safety of the children.

The creche has a staff of 30 workers and 5 volunteers who are there Monday-Friday from 7:30am until 4:30pm.

History of ASPA Creche

ASPA (Action Social Father Anchieta) was founded in 1963 by father Jesuit Paulo Machado Barbosa, a professor at PUC, a Catholic University in Gavea together with some other professors and residents of Gavea. Its one of the oldest community run institutions in Rocinha and its mission is to promote human consciousness and citizenship to better the quality of life through global education.

It was ASPA that was instrumental in setting up groups of workers from the favela to build the sewer systems and water distribution to the homes at the bottom of the favela. In the original shack that was first constructed, existed the church called Nossa Senhora Aparecida, was also the first school in Rocinha. There, the women would feed the workers who were building this water distribution project.

The creche ASPA evolved into project to promote social, cultural and educational benefits to the residents of Rocinha. The beginning started off as mothers creating outlets where others could take care of their children so they could go off to work. They did this because they had no other option to get care for their children. With time, the "creche" grew and they started to get things organized.

In order to create a better life for their families, its normal that both parents work. The children pass the full day in the creche and follow a routine of activities that are planned in meetings by qualified professionals.

Some of the activities work in partnership with teachers of music, dance, storytellers, occupational therapy that attend to children with special needs, and a psychologist who can give support to the educators. All of the educators are volunteers.

The daycare attends to 179 children from the ages to 6 months until 4 years old. They have been passing through some difficulty and need help to keep their doors open. The government wants to cut funding to over 100 community daycares in Rio.

This report just came out on March 31st. The report states that due to lack of city funds that theres a possibility that about 100 daycares run the risk of closing or eliminating spaces in these facilities. Currently, ASPA receives a little money from the city government to help pay salaries and the food pantry is supported by donations.

In talking with Carla and Suely, they both very open to the idea of receiving volunteers to help with the children. If while you are visiting on a tour would like to see the daycare, please let me know in advance so I can contact Carla. Please contact me if you are interested in helping out in any way! Thank you! contact: