It is mainly the boys who live on the streets. But the homeless girls' problems are even greater. Most of them get involved in prostitution for money or drugs at a young age. When they get pregnant they will attempt anything to force an abortion. Just like the boys, they come from terrible situations at home. On top of this, girls have fallen victim to grave sexual abuse. They are so damaged in their emotional make up that they are beyond the reach of counsellors and social workers.
Despite this, over time, the number of girls that sought help increased. In the early days, a large house in Manaus was remodeled and furnished for both short term and long term shelter. A whole new offshoot commenced. At the Abrigo shelter, which this house was called, girls were welcome to have meals, showers, medical care and safe lodging for the night (Obrigo means protection). Girls who were pregnant for more then six months where allowed to have a private room. Then when the baby was born, mother and child would have a safe place to live. Supervising these girls was, and still is very difficult.
The motivation for learning is lacking as well as the ability to concentrate on new tasks.
After a while the need arose for a place for recovery for girls. It needed to be similar to the shelter for boys: “Recanto da Paz”. A center with good opportunities for long term recovery and a more complete recovery program on a location outside of the city. Again, an appropriate place was sought after and.... found! By the end of 1993, the shelter “ESTER” opens her doors officially. The president of Brazil, at the time was Itamar Franco, even sent a telegram to wish them luck, and local authorities spoke with great appreciation of this unique initiative for girls.
“ESTER” is considerably smaller then “Recanto da Paz”. It houses a maximum of 20 girls, each having their own room. Councelling girls demands a more individual approach. Also at “ESTER” girls develop skills and learn in a positive environment to take responsibility. They go to school, do house or yard work. Some make some money working outside of the shelter. Part of that money goes to their own savings account.