Brazil: The Associação Comunitária Micael (ACOMI) is a charity organization that works with 350 children and teenagers from favelas in the suburb of Jardim Boa Vista in São Paulo. It includes a kindergarten and the “Being and Becoming” project that was founded with a neighbouring school to help and support individual children. There is also a wide range of extra-mural activities that the young people can choose to take part in during the afternoons.
It simply couldn’t go on like that. The little boy couldn’t learn anything, was always distracted and seemed to love creating chaos in class. He had to leave. All the teachers were at the end of their patience. And so he landed up in the Associação. The young teacher there was surprised. This very young and very temperamental child didn’t make the impression on her that he had learning difficulties. Quite the opposite, when this little boy joined her class she realized that she had an extraordinarily talented child in front of her.
When she began to look into the child’s background, she realized why he had been causing such a disturbance at school. She discovered that his grandmother, who was bringing him up, was illiterate. She was unable to provide the child with the intellectual challenges that he needed. With no opportunities to test his strength he sought other challenges, which in turn challenged the abilities and pedagogical capability of his teachers. There are also other such children who cannot cope in the large classes at the state schools.
“Being and Becoming” is the name of a progamme which aims to help them. They are allowed to stop attending school for one year, in which time they go to ACOMI. There they can receive help and support and develop the abilities they need in order to attain the standard that is required of them at the state schools.
The team at ACOMI does not, however, only work with school children. In the kindergarten groups the little ones have their place. There they can play together, something that many mothers cannot allow their children, because it is too dangerous outside and there isn’t enough room inside.
The afternoon programme offers everything from computer and literacy courses to extra lessons and help with homework, from English and Spanish lessons to eurythmy, carpentry and weaving, from medical and therapeutic assistance to soccer!
Since the founding of ACOMI more than 1100 children have found an open door there and have stayed, either in the kindergarten, or as school children, or to take part in the afternoon courses. They have stayed to live and to learn. Why have they some in such large numbers? The answer is clear when one hears what the co-workers have to say: “We are fighting to prevent children and teenagers from becoming social outsiders, by providing school supplementary lessons based on Waldorf Education”.