We left bright and early this morning to make the journey to the Inhoaíba neighbourhood. In England this journey would have taken less than an hour but here it took over too – I do not love Rio traffic! Flavia, who is accompanying me on the trip and translating, drove us there, I’m glad it wasn’t my job!
First we went to LAMAG which is a centre which cares for elderly people. It was in an amazing setting – lush tropical greenery in the grounds of the centre and mountains crowned by misty clouds surrounding it. The centre has space for 22 residents but there are currently only 6 there because the government instructed them to do some maintenance work, which is completed, but the government is being very slow to verify it. The centre is completely funded by the Methodist Church. We said hello to the residents with a kiss and a hug. The staff told us they very rarely get visited by their families – most don’t even ever ring to see how they are. Once a resident was bought by a man who said he was going to get the rest of her belongings and never came back – the elderly lady was there for 20 years!! Another story was that someone rang to ask how their grandmother was, and was told that she had died 3 years ago. People from the 1st Methodist Cathedral in Rio especially give a lot of support to the centre, both financially and with visits. It was very well staffed with a wide variety of carers and on site medical professionals, necessary to fulfil government criteria. The residents feel safe because there is everything they need there at the centre. The staff become like a new family for them. The picture below shows a lady called Maria, aged 86, who seemed very excited to meet someone from England!
Then we drove a short way to IMAG, a social project with a nursery which has 250 children, a sports programme and a computer programme. Unfortunately the children weren’t there because it had been raining too much the day before. IMAG is having some problems with cows from the neighbourhood wandering onto the land, leaving the things that cows like to leave! They are trying to get some funding to build a fence to keep the cows out. After this we were due to go to the Methodist Ecological Centre but couldn’t because of the rain.
In the afternoon I was interviewed for the Rio de Janeiro Methodist District online tv channel! They asked me questions like why was I in Brazil, where had I visited, what evangelistic and social projects does the British Methodist Church have, how is the youth work structured in the British Methodist Church, and have I ever been involved in any mission during sporting events (they are gearing up for the World Cup). The last was a great question because I was able to talk about my work with Refresh 2012, an ecumenical project during the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events in Weymouth and Portland, which was my One Programme Project last year. It’s helpful that I have been involved in a similar project I hope that my experiences will be able to help them. The interview was pretty nerve wracking – I can get flustered when put on the spot sometimes! But the camera crew were sooooooo friendly and helpful. I invited them to England and offered to find one of them a nice English husband which she thought was brilliant!!
Tonight we fly to Boa Vista in the Amazon, far in the North of the country. We will arrive in the early hours of the morning. Then we go to to Manaus and Manaquiri, and leave the Amazon next Friday to go to Sao Paolo. I am unsure if I will be able to access the internet whilst in the Amazon so may not be able to post for a while. I can’t believe I’m actually going to the Amazon – so terrified and excited!! Please pray that the journey will be smooth and that the next week will be valuable for all involved. Thanks and God bless!