Today was a fairly productive day for the team at Casa Semear. Most of our efforts are now put in to finishing things off as we leave in two days and it would be good to leave having completed a couple of projects. The girls finished off painting the corridors and door ways. Everything now looks much brighter and fresher. The boys work hard to finish of the arts and crafts room and it’s looking great! When we arrived the walls were just bare brick. Now they are gradually turning in to nice, smooth plastered walls ready for painting. It’s been a grand effort. However, in attempt to remove some ‘dead space’ Senhor Louise extended the floor over the stairway to create some storage space. This involved him balancing perilously on 3 thin beams only three stories up with nothing holding him up. My nerves weren’t really up to watching it but I managed to get a quick photo for evidence. It may have been mentioned before but health and safety does not exist here! Thankfully the job was done without any fatalities.

Left to Right: Aline, Mum, Alexandra (below), “Wee Agatha”, Amanda and Alan.

This afternoon Silvana was venturing on some family visits. She regularly visits the families of the children who come to Casa Semear and offered to let us come with her today. We went in pairs to avoid over-crowing the small houses and over-whelming the families. Esther and I went together and on the way we met Aline and she invited us in to her home. Aline is the sister of Alan, Casa Semear’s resident artist. There are about 10 people living in their two-room house. Note: that doesn’t mean “two bedrooms” but quite literally two rooms. To say that lack of personal space is an issue would be an understatement. However the family were incredibly welcoming and allowed us in to their home. It was a real privilege to visit the children in their homes and gain an insight into their daily lives. Those who visited the families today agreed that it was a benefit that we already knew the children rather than simply visiting strangers. Alan showed us some of his sketches and I showed his Mum a photo of the paintings that I have bought from him. Although neither of us spoke the same language it was a special moment being able to share in each other’s lives even so briefly. It is somewhat sad to see these families living in cramped houses with open sewage systems running near by, but today personally I didn’t feel sad. I felt hopeful – hopeful that the work of the Abba team at Casa Semear will enable these children to reach their potential and provide opportunities for them to work their way towards a successful life, whatever shape or form that might take.

No doubt the team have mixed feelings about our pending departure. It’s been a long three weeks in which time quite a lot has happened. Sharing in the lives of Robert & Silvana, Dora, Dorothy & Caio, Hedi (AJ), Tauani and Paulette, has been an immense privilege. Everyone we have met has been so incredibly welcoming and it is extremely humbling to see people who are working on the “front line” and living by faith day to day. The work on the house has progressed extensively and I think it’s safe to say we have achieved much of what we set out to do. We can only hope that we tie up most of the “loose ends” the next couple of days as we prepare to head to home.

Amie on behalf of the group.

Photo Gallery can be found here

Douglas’s blog can be found here