Time for another update – I wish I could do them more often but we tend to be quite busy with little time to sit down and write! This weekend was just great – lots happened so I’m going to go day by day!
Saturday saw revive turn itself into a salon for the girls. The evening was one of the girls’ 15th birthday party – which is a massive deal here, even bigger than the sweet 16 in America – so naturally all day was spent preparing for it. We all had a slightly longer lie in which was nice, and then the beauty regime started with nails from after breakfast, then turned to hair and make up, right up to when the party started! The girls all make a huge effort when it comes to leaving the house and looking their best, or even for a party at home – so we felt we needed to do the same!
This also gave us the opportunity to see what the girls had and divide up all the gifts which we brought over from donations. We made them each up a little bag of cosmetics, based on what they already had and what they liked. Anything left over was out somewhere where they can all share. They also absolutely loved the hair straighteners and curlers. Rosy was straightening one of the girls hair for almost 2 hours it was that thick – but it looked great afterwards! This felt like a really rewarding day – just to spend time doing the things they enjoy and making them feel special.
In the evening the birthday party was great! Andy got to dance the waltz with the birthday girl (a turning 15 tradition) – no doubt just one of many times he will dance the waltz! Andy, Gordo (the handyman) and Philipe are great examples of how men should be treating their wives, sisters and daughters. It is lovely to see Andy looked up to as a father for all the girls here.
Sunday in Brazil was Father’s Day. A difficult day for all of the girls in the house. It was nice that the birthday party fell the night before as a little celebration for the girls. Rosy spoke on the Good Samaritan at the morning church service – and one of the girls helped me and Sophie out in acting out a modern day version of this. Naturally we used football to demonstrate it – this will never fail to grab their attention! Andy then said a little about how God is our perfect Heavenly Father – a moving moment for lots of the girls. The church service itself was informal and fun – I tried to sing in Portuguese which I think provided much hilarity for the girl stood next to me. I did love the vibrancy and the dancing though!
Sunday afternoon saw us have time away from the house and the girls on our own for the first time. We went to the beach and were stared at for most of our trip out – 3 white girls is a rare occurrence! We drank out of coconuts and soaked up the sun. It was a lovely time to chill despite the beach being crammed full of Brazilians celebrating Father’s Day. We then tried to have some food but found most places we wanted to visit closed so went to the Brazilian version of McDonald’s called “Habib’s” and ate even more carbs. They were showing the olympics however so we managed to see some GB gold medal winning!
On Sunday evening we went to the house of the ReVive England volunteer coordinator Rachel, and her father Steve who is one of the Brazilians on the ReVive board. Steve lives in the penthouse of an apartment block in Recife so we had a great journey over in the combi and a great view of the city skyline from the top. It was like being in New York – Recife is huge! It was great to meet Rachel and Steve and hear about their plans. Rachel and Sophie even had a friend in common – it’s a small world! Afterwards Andy and Rose took us to the big shopping mall in Recife for dinner and for their little girls, Sophia and Julia to play in the games station. It was lovely to spend more time with them, and the mall was quite something! However, Andy told me that they had to move the shanty town to build the mall as the land was cheaper – we drove past the shanty town and saw that it was by the edge of the river and some of the houses were on stilts. Sadly this is typical of Brazil with the divide of wealth.
Jane came to the ReVive house 2 years ago, just in Rosy’s last week. Rosy told us that when she arrived she was physically a mess, with matted hair and scraggly clothes. They quickly discovered that she couldn’t read, write or count to 10 as she had never been to school before. Emotionally, she was really difficult and refused to do anything she was asked to do. Sadly Jane had come from a heartbreaking situation where her mother would take her every weekend to her grandmother’s house where her grandmother’s partner would sexually abuse both Jane and her mother and then receive payments for his friends to do the same. Coming back here now and seeing a confident and chirpy girl with long sleeky hair who always wants to help out and is favoured by her teachers, is just an example of the work here at Revive.