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Frei Adailson Quintino dos Santos is the Director, and Lucimar Correa the Project Coordinator of the Associação Beneficente São Martinho. For over 30 years, the organization has been working to further the protection, rights and social inclusion of deprived children and adolescents in Rio de Janeiro. In this metropolis of twelve million people, thousands of children and adolescents live on the streets or in slums, the so-called favelas. They are exposed to violence, sexual abuse, crime and drugs, and for them each day is a fight for survival. In addition, most of them have a serious educational backlog, as they have either not attended elementary school or had to break it off prematurely.
'Transformando vidas' - transforming lives
In its task assignments, the São Martinho organization works systematically but at the same time - depending on the situation of the children – it proceeds in a differentiated way through a team of social workers, teachers, psychologists and lawyers. Working in mobile teams, social workers first seek contact with the children and adolescents on the street and, if possible, with their families. They help them with the needs and necessities of everyday life. The children and adolescents receive social and legal advice and access to leisure activities in the two centres of São Martinho, where they can make music, play theatre or do sports. The children are also taught basic school subjects in order to prepare them for vocational training. Finally, through cooperation with partner organizations, São Martinho provides young people with workplace training or apprenticeships.
To further the protection and rights of children and adolescents, São Martinho also works at a socio-political and scientific level. That is why São Martinho, thanks to its competence and consistency, has become an outstanding and recognized institution, not only in Rio de Janeiro but throughout Brazil. As a result, the organization today has attained an exemplary reputation in the whole country.
In her laudation, Pascale Baeriswyl, State Secretary of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, paid tribute to the award recipients’ dedication as path-breaking: 'Through the valuable work of Frei Adailson Quintino dos Santos and Lucimar Correa, children and adolescents not only learn how to recognise their rights but also receive educational and recreational opportunities as well as vocational training; gaining chances of new livelihoods and better prospects for the future. The organisation can present remarkable performance credentials. It accompanies and looks after 1800 children and adolescents every year.'
Children’s rights as binding duty for everyone
Children have the right to functioning health care facilities, education, nutrition, social security and decent housing standards. They also have the right to protection from physical and mental violence, from mistreatment, from economic and sexual exploitation. Pascale Baeriswyl: 'The commitment and initiative of organizations such as São Martinho exhorts the observance of the Child Protection Convention, which the international community brought into force 30 years ago. Thus, the Prix Caritas 2019 is also a commitment: one which urges that same community to open up ways for poor children and adolescents into both the present and the future. The award of the Prix Caritas 2019 is also meant to serve to encourage the recipients to continue their fight for the protection of children and minors, and for children's rights.'
The Prix Caritas is awarded each year to persons who distinguish themselves by their great professional expertise and humanity, as well as their long-term and innovative engagement. The prize money of CHF 10,000 goes to one of the award winner's projects.