In the spring of 1988 Serviço Missionário do Amazonas encounters another big problem. There are children who wander the streets of Manaus day and night. In the favela's their existance is threatened by grave poverty, alcohol abuse by parents and by problems in the family situation. Life has little value..
Some kids decide to run away from "home". Others are being sent away by parents because they can't support their children. To this day, the sad army of street kids of Manaus has grown to many thousands. They stay alive by doing small chores; washing cars, polishing shoes and... theft. Their existance is very hard. They have nothing to lose.
When the kids start living in the streets they soon encounter the cheapest of all drugs: glue. They inhale the fumes of a wad of glue in a plastic bag. It quiets hunger pangs for that moment. Reality of every day living fades for a moment. But after only a few months of this practice, the consequences become noticeable. Lungs, mucous membranes and brains start to be affected. Within a few years, the bodies of these kids are wrecks. That is, if they haven't lost their lives long before that by the hard life on the streets. Shop owners, drivers and police feel threatened by the kids. Even they would rather get rid of them...
Betty and José have started to care for these children in 1988. At first mainly the boys. In concersations they receive something they haven't experienced before: love and attention. Betty and José and their team try to talk them in to choose a different life path: at Recanto da Paz, outside of Manaus, recovering and starting a new life with Christ. Thousands of boys have been helped in this way. In the peaceful environment at Recanto da Paz, the kids blossom. The glue addiction comes to a halt, the kids receive nourishing meals every day, but they also learn to take responsibilityfor others, for their work, for animals.
The work in aiding addicts and street children has developed within the last few years. Constant adjustments are necessarry because local conditions change. Life on the streets is getting increasingly more difficult. Torturing and the disappearing of kids happens more and more often. On the other hand, the foundation and it's recovery programme do get more attention and recognition by the government, judicial system and social work, even at a nationwide scale.
The work in the inner city has concentrated more and more from the mission post in Manaus. It has served from the early days on, as the administrative and organisational headquarters of the foundation. Addicts and children who truly want help, find their way to the house. They will always receive immediate help, but alteriour options are sought for longer term shelter elsewhere, and an intensive rehabilitation program.
At the missionary post, the parents of these children who are receiving help are being contacted as soon as possible. If this is possible Betty sits down with them and together they will try to think of solutions for the problems that caused these children to start living in the streets. The parents are exposed to the gospel as well by the lives of the people at the shelter and by the weekly church services. Visiting days stimulate the parents to take responsibility for their children and to apply themselves for their future. Then together the parents will travel by bus from Manaus to their children at Recanto da Paz and Ester.