Lar de Crianças Sara e Burton Davis (The Lar) is a full-care “orphanage style” institution serving the abandoned, abused and exploited children of Ceará, Brazil.
Imagine children digging through trash, begging for food, living in boxes. This is what Betty Brown saw in 1983 while participating with a Medical Mission team whose goal was to meet the medical needs of the people of Ceará, Brazil, living in misery. Mrs. Brown’s goal became to find a way to transform children’s lives.
What Mrs. Brown saw then is not much different today. While the economy has improved in Brazil over the last ten years, the Human Development Index has not. Education, health care, and other measurable areas have decreased or remained static while crime and corruption have increased. Fortaleza, in the Northeast of Brazil, is still known as the number one area in the Americas for child prostitution and the UN has ranked Brazil in the top five. Child abuse, neglect and abandonment are rampant due to drug trafficking, yet in order to get into a safe environment, a local psychologist states, “a child must have gone through hell.” The Davis Lar’s mission is to restore each child, preparing them to be confident, competent, compassionate, contributing citizens in Christ’s name.
Ongoing Project – The Davis Lar
The Davis Lar received their first child in June of 2001. Today the Lar cares for 68 children and adolescents from ages 3 through 22 with a capacity to house 120. The Lar utilizes homes with up to ten children or adolescents each, with house parents as the front line caregivers promoting positive development. Collaborative Lar programs include computer training, tutoring, local church participation, sewing, gardening, service opportunities and a new library program. Examples of youth preparing to move out and on include a cook, mechanic, and nurse. As one young lady says, “Without the Lar I could have been a prostitute like my mom, not a nurse.”
The Lar stands apart in the area of orphan care in Ceará and Brazil due to outcomes and continued investment and has become a reference for other institutions. The Lar does not age out adolescents at 18 as others do, but continues to invest until youth gain independence, utilizing two transition homes in the city. Furthermore, the Lar is participating in a research project designed to improve resilience factors and positive youth outcomes across cultures.