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Espaço São Micael – Social Therapy in Botucatu

Brazil: Since 2007, the Association for Social Therapy "Espaço São Micael" works in two empty buildings belonging to the biodynamic farm Estância Demétria. Somewhat out of Botucatu, the initiative is located directly next to AITIARA Waldorf School. In a bamboo-, textile- and a candle workshop, as well as in the field of housekeeping, each of the young adults with special needs finds a workplace. As an additional aid Espaço São Micael offers music- and art therapy. 

The settlement Estância Demétria is an oasis of nature. Situated 250km outside of São Paulo and not far from Botucatu, the noise and hectic rush of the large city are quickly forgotten. It is easy to understand, why the first families settled there and started to cultivate the soil bio-dynamically in 1974 and eventually founded a Waldorf School. Today the initiative counts 400 families that are working and living together. In the process of development quite a few nationalities have come together: Brazilian, Swiss, German, Dutch, English and American citizens settled during the course of time. Joining the settlement Estância Demétria in 2006, the Wotka family brought along the impulse to start an initiative for Social Therapy. Due to the fact that people with disabilities living in Brazil are offered way too few job-related options, the request to this initiative was huge.

The beginning was made with five people at the Wotka residence. But already in 2007 the initiative was able to move into the premises of Estância Demétria and the development of workshops began. In 2008 the institution was recognized as a non-profit facility. Ever since, spoons, knifes and music instruments are being produced in the bamboo workshop, banana-fibre is being woven in the textile workshop, beeswax candles are being drawn in the candle workshop and the housekeeping group prepares lunch. In the meantime 15 adolescent and adult people in need of soul care, coming from various social backgrounds, are being looked after and cared for.

The location of São Micael is ideal in many ways. The harvested banana plant needed for the textile workshop can be directly harvested on the fields of Estância Demétria, as well as bamboo. Further advantages are the fact that milk and yoghurt can directly be fetched from the barn or the cheese dairy, lemons can be gathered from the trees of the farm and the people with special needs enjoy the possibility to learn about agriculture. Particularly nice is also the fact that employees of the farm always have time for a little chitchat with the disabled. Furthermore the proximity to the school offers many possibilities for a social exchange. Several students of AITIARA Waldorf School have already successfully completed their internship at Espaço São Micael . Therefore it is almost possible to forget that money – despite the selling of the workshop goods – is always short and here and there work exists, which yet has to be funded. 

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