During a stay in the Netherlands in 1985, it became clear that the mission of Betty en José Pimenta would go into a different direction. On returning to Manaus they came in contact with drug addicts. Manaus has grown out to be a very large city at the edge of the jungle. Poor and unemployed caboclo's (rubbertappers) are coming from the inlands with the hope to find employment and a new life in Manaus. Endless favela's spring up, desolate districts with tiny huts of wood, plastic or cardboard. Sewer systems and running water are lacking in many of these. Crime rates are high as well as infant deaths. Because of the hopeless conditions, many turn to drugs. Many drug addicts came to doctor José for help. Betty and José started offering help in the name of the Lord.
The centers for help and shelter grew larger all the time. Shalom was founded. It operated as a temporary shelter, coffee shop and outreach center. Located at the outskirts of Manaus it was especially meant as a place where first contacts with drug addicts could be made. But it became clear that true shelter and recovery would only be possible in a place where there were no drugs available.
When Betty was in the Netherlands in 1985, a large sum of money was offered to her for the purpose of building a hospital. When she returned to Manaus, she was offered money to furnish the hospital. "I am sure that the two people who donated these funds do not know one another". Betty says. It wasn't until later when they became aware that the hospital would provide a great place for drug recovery. In a miraculous way, the foundation was allowed the use of a building with a large piece of property, approx. 80 km. Outside of Manaus.
At that time it was an old and tattered building. By hard work throughout the years a hospital (!), fellowship hall, dormitories, kitchens, a pig farm, large herb gardens and several workshops. (Ex) drug addicts where involved in all of these building and remodeling projects. In this way they learn to take responsibility and are getting exercise. They also acquire work skills. Recovery in a positive environment is of great importance. "When they are free and Jesus resides in their hearts, their eyes reflect joy and this joy start to spread throughout their lives".
At recovery shelter Recanto da Paz the opportunities for shelter have increased greatly over the past years. In 1990 a four classroom and a preschool were founded. The funds for building these were provided for a large part by the hard work of a Dutch elementary school. The students in the school are not only residents from Recanto da Paz, but also children from nearby communities. Teaching ex street kids takes great teaching skills and great patience. Most of these boys have never been in a classroom. It also happens that their brains are damaged due to sniffing glue. This of course makes learning difficult. Education however is a very important aspect of the recovery program. It greatly increases their chances to a independent position in society. The school works with cerified teachers and is also state certified.
Recanto da Paz just keeps growing. Farming productivity has greatly increased. The stock of cattle consists of large numbers of pigs, rabbits and fish. Then there is the growing of crops, fruit and herbs.
In developing work skills but also in learning to take responsibility everything is essential. When you see the boys tenderly caring for a newborn creature, it's hard to believe that they used to have no feelings or respect for life whatsoever.
Exercise and sports are a vital part in the program. Morning exercises start at 5 am. A simple gymnasium was completed in 1994. A valuable asset!
The expansion of the buildings and facilities allowed for more and better shelter and recovery programs. The staff members of Recanto are very greatful to the people who donated money for this project.
Documentary of the work and life in "Recanto da Paz"...
Below you see a Google Earth picture of Recanto from above.