TOUCH of Hope Foundation Centre

Located in South America, low-lying Amazon basin in the north, Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world; its area covers 3.285.618 sq miles. Brazilian population is about 160 millions inhabitants.


Campina Grande lies over the Borborema Plateau, in Paraíba, a state in the northeast of Brazil

Collecting Rubbish to Live

The outskirts of Campina Grande is a very deprived area. This area was formed by people who used to live in the landfill and eat the rubbish. They survived by collecting the rubbish from the Dumps. They sorted through it and then kept it near their homes so that it wasn’t stolen.

Most of the families are very large. Often the father is not present. The majority of the people are illiterate and they live without the basic conditions for living such as water, energy, sewer and paved streets. Some families have problems with alcohol, illicit drug use, and domestic violence. The children spend the days by themselves or they go along and help collect the rubbish.

The Sisters of Mercy are helping to find ways to support these families. Sr. Celine Conway from Rathangan, Ireland has set up a Recycling Centre and Literacy Project

The TOUCH of Hope foundation Centre

Drop in Centre/ Literacy Centre, Campina Grande, Brazil

 Background to the project

The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Brazil in 1982. Over the past 25 years 15 Sisters have given dedicated service to the poor there. Three Sisters continue there, living and working in the State of Paraìba, one of the poorest States in the country.

Celine Conway, a native of Rathangan, has been working in Campina for the past nine years. She is involved in an Adult Literacy Programme; a co-operative on the city dump for dump workers and a paper recycling programme.

The Adult Literacy Programme is aimed at youths and adults ranging from 19 – 75 years who are illiterate. Over 1000 adults have achieved basic literacy and numeric skills and are now continuing their education in the public schools. Nine young Brazilian women were trained by Celine as Monitors for the Programme using the Methodology of the well know Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. All of these girls receive a monthly salary from the Project.

The co-operative is situated on the city dump approximately 20 minutes from the city of Campina Grande. Over 200 families, particularly women and children seek out an existence rooting through the rubbish collecting cans, plastic etc. Many people actually eat left-over food and rotten fruit which they find there. The aim of the co-operative is to ensure that the workers get a fair price for their “products” which are bought by re-cycling companies. A tractor and trailer transports the cans and plastic etc to the co-operative where they are crushed and baled before being sold to A woman working on the city dump… recycling companies.

The Paper Recycling Project was set up by Celine to create alternative employment for some of the dump workers. A group were trained in the process and the paper was sold this year to three private schools in the city where the students used it at their art classes! A group of local women are now producing greeting cards, notebooks, business cards etc from this paper and selling them to shops in the city. Both of these projects have created a small income for about 20 people.

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