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Casa Abba Project Blog

Casa Semear Blog

This blog is writen by various people as they volunteer and work in Casa Semear in Sao Paulo Brazil.

The ballet room

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Tue, November 17, 2015 11:52:58

As we have already mentioned we are focusing on the
renovation of the ballet room at Casa Semear during our time here.

This past week or so
has seen lots of work going on with the ballet room being improved. We have had
the beam being installed and welded into place (lots of sparks flying then);
the beam then being all cemented and blocked up so that we can then plaster it
with the rest of the room; making the door space larger; taking out the
existing windows and installing new clear paned windows in their place to get
more light into the space; pulling down a portion of the ceiling which was all
cracked and refilling & cementing and lots of clearing, sorting and
cleaning in the midst.

Callum has been enjoying his role as Sr Luiz’s right hand
man, mixing concrete, sorting the ‘scaffolding’, cleaning the tools and other
odd jobs as well as getting his hands dirty with the bigger jobs. We both got our
hands dirty with the windows coming out – even though Sr Luiz would often pass
the hammer to Callumthat didn’t stop Kirsty from getting involved and using her
muscles too!

We are hoping that the plastering will be completed early
this week to allow us to paint the room before we leave on Saturday. Also
budget permitting we hope to be able to refloor the whole room.

If you would like to support the work of Casa Semear please
donate via our GoFundMe page here

Arts & Crafts

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Mon, November 16, 2015 21:21:26

Arts & Crafts day is one of the most fun in the Casa
Semear week.

The variety of things that are now made during Arts &
Craft time is expanding and as well as the well known and loved bead keyrings
they also make wooden candle holders, Christmas decorations, bracelets, and

This past week the younger kids have also been making a
variety of decorations for Casa Semears own Christmas parties on 10th
& 11th December. They have loved getting their hands dirty with
glue and sequins and create something which they could all enjoy.

We have been extremely impressed with the skills of the
older boys who have been making the wooden candle holders. These are a fairly
recent development as they have been trying to use these times not only to have
fun but also to help develop practical skills. They really enjoy being able to
use the various tools and create something so impressive. There is currently
talk about one or more of the boys enrolling in a woodwork course for 2 years
to allow them to then go on to work. This requires them to sit a fairly
challenging entrance test so please pray for this.

We are going to be packing our suitcases full of these
wooden tealight holders. If you want to make sure that we have one (or more!)
for you then please comment below or send us a message. The large ones (fitting
2 tealights) cost £6 and the small ones (holding 1 tealight) are £4. We will
also be bringing home a fresh collection of keyrings and some of the Christmas

As always if you would like to support the work of Casa
Semear please donate via our GoFundMe page at

A brush with reality

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Wed, November 11, 2015 00:13:28

Today (Tuesday) we went on a visit
with Robert and Silvana into the favela on one of their weekly family visits.

The visit really made us both
realise the reality of the situations which the children who come to Casa
Semear live in day by day.

Although Kirsty has been to Brazil
and the favela before (the last time being over 5 years ago) and we are living
on the edge of the favela going right into the heart of things really does shed
a different light on it all. The typical view of the favela is that of the red
brick shanty town style houses all built on top of each other and of course
that is what many houses in the favelas are like. However as you go right into
the favela you find many more houses which are made out of scraps of wood
nailed together and corrugated iron roofs.

As you enter the favela you are
struck by how different it truly is. The area we went to is nicknamed ‘The
Jungle’ and you can understand why when you get there – it is a maze of mud
caked paths and hundreds of houses occupying every space. We can’t even begin
to describe the smell which accompanies the favela, let’s just say that
hundreds of people living together in cramped conditions along the side of an
open sewer in a warm climate does not make for the most pleasant surroundings.

We went into the favela to meet
with Henricka, the mother of 2 of the girls who attend Casa Semear in the
mornings. She lives in her house with her other 2 children (twins of 3 years
old) and her 13 year old son currently lives with his grandfather as the house
has been damaged and there is no longer space for them all in the house. This is in large part because recently, as a
result of heavy rain, the space which was the kitchen quite literally was
washed away and the kitchen has had to move into one of the bedrooms. It is
shocking to see what was once a really family space now be some wooden boards
where there was a floor with no roof and very little walls.

We learned that Henricka is a real
focal point of the community within the favela. Whilst we were there a pastor
from the local church arrived with several bags of donated clothes for her to
distribute to those in need in the favela. We also found out that before the
kitchen was swept away she held prayer meetings for the community in her house
and Robert had even been invited to speak at one of those. Unfortunately these
are no longer taking place as she just doesn’t have the space although people
who used to attend have been asking for them to start back.

Although she has so little we were
welcomed with open arms and a friendly smile. Henricka, although she has had a
very difficult life, had such a positive attitude and is still able to be thankful
for what she has and what God has provided.

There has been a recent answer to
prayer in relation to this family. Robert had received contact from a family in
America who wanted to support a family in Brazil. On Saturday a Skype call had
been set up between the families and money has been pledged to support the
family going forward. We were able to discuss the progress with this and how
the money can help in the house. We are hopeful that the money will be able to
be used to rebuild the house in brick to make it a more safe and secure place for
the whole family, and ultimately to reach out into that community.

On our way back to Semear our
guide Henricka took us through the warren of streets to a couple of other
houses which some of the other children at Semear live. Again we were struck by
how little the families have but how they try to make the most of what they do
have and be proud of taking care of their homes.

This afternoon has really
highlighted the importance of the work that Robert and Silvana, and all the
workers at Casa Semear do to provide a wonderful place for the children to go
to. If you want to support the work we have set up a Go Fund Me page to receive
donations. Many thanks in advance

The favela

Henricka’s house

Another favela house

Friday – games day

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Sat, November 07, 2015 12:55:44

Friday’s at Casa Semear are game day where the kids can come along and have the chance to play, hang out and generally be kids!

it was also a special Friday as they celebrated all of the birthdays that have occurred over the past 2 moths and we had cake and juice together. Callum even surprised the kids with a rendition of happy birthday on the bagpipes. The kids were amazed by the bagpipes and many of them even tried to play them!

the kids were great at getting us involved – although we have realised the danger of not being entirely sure of the language and agreeing to anything – Kirsty got her toe and finger nails painted(in a variety of colours) and even was subjected to some face paint!

callum spent much of the time playing football with some of the kids and quickly realised that scottish feet are not as hardy as Brazilian ones quickly getting some blisters!

it was great fun though and totally worth it!

Thursday – the building work begins!

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Sat, November 07, 2015 12:32:03

On Thursday Sr Luiz, the ‘resident’ builder for Casa Semear came round to get started on the ballet room renovation.

We had to start by chipping holes into the walls to try and locate the rooms concrete beams. To support the room (and the building above!) a steel beam is to be inserted so we needed to find the places to support the ends of the beam. This resulted in us finding that one end of the room had 3(!) walls which we had to break through to find the main wall containing the beam. Once we located the correct places we then had to make sure the holes were big enough to get the beam in.

We then went to buy the beam which was do be delivered later in the day.

On our return Sr Luiz was going to head home as he hadn’t been feeling great but instead he stuck around for the rest of the afternoon and we broke down a section of wall to make the entrance into the room larger. We both got busy with breaking down the wall –
Much to Sr Luiz’s surprise!

By the end of the day we were extremely dusty but glad that we have taken the first steps in improving the ballet room. On Monday the beam will be installed and then we will be plastering the whole room.


2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Wed, November 04, 2015 23:07:40

Today is a ‘quiet’ day at Casa Semear as there are no kids.
Instead the focus is on the wider Abba organsiation, with the Abba group having
their team meeting in the afternoon.

In the morning we decided to get to work on the things that
need done around the house starting with the new kitchen door that needed
painted. We managed to fit in 2 coats of both sides of the door in the morning
before having to head off for our bus to across town to the meeting.

It was really good to attend the Abba meeting, the group has
really grown in the 5 years since Kirsty was last in Brazil – so encouraging!
We met a number of people who work in the other Abba projects throughout the
city (10 in all!) and had the chance to share news, prayer requests and
otherwise support one another. After the meeting we shared drinks and cake and
more chat! We even had a rendition (several!) of Let it go & Do you wanna
build a snowman? from Frozen with two of the kids currently living in Casa
Elohim where the meeting took place. They were quite unimpressed that we didn’t
know all of the words and tried to teach us how to sing it in Portuguese. We
didn’t do too well…..

On the way home we stopped at a local building supply store
and bought trim for the edge of the door frame. It cost us 18 Reals (about
£3-4!!). After dinner we painted the trim and the frame of the door. We also
cleared the ballet room ready for Sr Luiz coming tomorrow to start work on
getting the room renovated. Now its off to bed to make sure that we have lots
of energy for the work tomorrow.

Day 1 photos

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Tue, November 03, 2015 22:25:05

Day 1 @ Casa Semear

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Tue, November 03, 2015 22:02:55

Today we have had our first experience of Casa Semear kids
programme. The activities are run in morning and afternoon sessions as the
children here only go to school for half of the day.

Things started just after 9am when the first children began
to arrive for some breakfast before things kicked off. We all shared rolls and
strong, sugary, milky coffee and Callum and I were greeted with endless hugs
and kisses from all of the children as they arrived.

The children are split into 4 different groups: the 5-8 year
olds led by Dora; the 8-11’s led by Jai & Fillipe; the teenage girls led by
Silvana & Dorothe; and the teenage boys led by Robert.

A Tuesday is focused on the bible study classes for all of
the groups. We joined in with the groups as they sang songs, learned stories,
drew pictures, talked and played games. We were even put on the spot to sing a
song with the younger group so sang a favourite from St Mary’s ‘Our God is a
Great Big God’.

Also on a Tuesday the girls take part in ballet lessons for
part of the time. They are practicing for a performance as part of their end of
year celebrations and it was great to see them practicing together. See below
for some photo evidence.

We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the local
supermarket to get some supplies and also a DIY store to get some paint for the
first task on our list – painting the kitchen door!

We are looking forward to tomorrow when we will be doing
some painting, attending the Abba team meeting and going with Laura &
Filipe on their outreach into one of the local favelas. For now it’s time to
try and brush up on some more Portuguese!

We’ve arrived!

2015 Kirsty/Callum Posted on Mon, November 02, 2015 22:18:29

Hi everyone,

We are very excited to be writing a blog post at the end of our first full day in Sao Paulo.

After a slightly worried start with delays due to fog at both Glasgow and Amsterdam we got our flights (if a little late) and arrived safely in Sao Paulo. Our cases were one of the last ones to arrive off the baggage carousel so we were concerned for a little while that they hadn’t made our connection in Amsterdam but we were in luck and all 4 cases stuffed to the brim had made the trip in pretty much one piece!

Robert, Silvana and one of their sons Rafael met us at the airport and we drove through the city centre on the way to Casa Semear. As it was pretty late and dark we could only get a bit of a feeling of the scale of the city but it was great to arrive safely and see some friendly faces.

On arrival at Casa Semear we were greeted by Dora and Hector. Dora had prepared a lovely meal of rice and beef strogonoff which was just what we needed after our long journey and we wolfed it down even though it was 11pm!! Finally it was off to bed and our first night in the volunteer flat which looks even better in real life than the photos.

Today it was a Brazilian holiday so we had a chilled day and BBQ at Robert & Silvana’s house on the edge of the city. It was fantastic to see their house which they only moved to in February. Lots of potential for development both as a family home and a place they can bring the kids from Semear for fun days.

The rest of the Semear team were also there and it was good to see some familiar faces as well as meet lots of new people.

We aare looking forward to tomorrow when the kids programme is back on and we can also get started on the bits of work which Robert has planned for us.

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