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Resilience in the face of loss

The city of Timbiras presents a disconcerting contrast between the surrounding natural beauty and the lack of access to many basic services.

We found Euclides, a shy 11-year-old boy, living with his brother and grandfather in São Miguel, a remote area of Timbiras. He was facing the same difficulties as every other child in his community - poverty, poor sanitation and a weak public transport system which made it hard for him to attend school.


Just before Euclides' mother died, she left Euclides with his grandfather, who he was very attached to. He later discovered he also had a younger brother. When their grandfather passed away, the boys were left completely alone. This was made worse by the fact that they had no access to  health services and were not going to school.

A few months later, members of our Relationship Building team found Euclides and his brother and immediatly took steps to support them, contacting the local authority and organising emergency aid such as food and clothing. We then mobilised members of the neighbourhood to help monitor the boys' living conditions and to check they were attending school.

As important as it was to remove the brothers from the situation in which we first found them, we had to ensure the community would continue to support them. Given their remote location, we had to rely on their neighbours to keep an eye on them, as well a neighbour who volunteered to be their legal guardian. This collective effort helped ensure the government fulfilled its role of ensuring the boys were able to claim their right to health and an education.

It was five years ago that we first made contact with Euclides. He is now 16, regularly attends school and has big plans for the future.He is still living with his brother in the house their grandfather left them, and the yellowed photos on the walls serve to remind them of a former life - their mother, grandmother, grandfather and their twin sisters, who they never met.

Euclides is still a very shy young man, which makes it harder from him to fully engage with many of the activities provided for him, but he is an enthusiastic and committed student. He is interested in mechanics and recently started a technical course. He also loves football and is an avid Flamengo supporter. Just talk to him about the team and he'll give you a full repertoire of jokes about their opponents.

Euclides is keen to be a politician one day to help his community, or he may be a missionary. Interestingly, both professions share a common factor - helping others.