Our work with pastors, families and children in the Amazon has grown immensely this year. A large part of this increased impact comes from ramping up our child protection efforts. Child abuse is prevalent along the Amazon River, where families live in obscurity and alcoholism runs rampant. While Amazonas is in the top five states in Brazil with the most reports of sexual abuse against children, it’s estimated that only 10% of complaints reach police stations and hospitals.
Breaking the Silence
Over the past two years, we have increased our focus on this issue to stand in the gap for these vulnerable children. JMA Program Director Anny Fernandes says, “Silence has been our biggest challenge.” So, our team is boldly speaking up to equip village leaders with the knowledge and resources to deconstruct the culture of violence. We are helping children believe in the value of their bodies and emotions and empowering them with information about how to get help if they are a victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. We are also working with local church members to build them up as agents of change in their communities. They’re learning how to set a godly example in the treatment of children and how to protect victims.
Shining Light in the Darkness
As a result of this important work, our team has seen light break through the darkness. One of the leaders we trained became the first person in her city to report suspected child abuse. The official was astonished and asked her what led her to file a complaint, since no one usually has the courage. She replied that she learned about abuse prevention in JMA trainings. The official was so impressed that she came to our training too. By the grace of God, we know this program can save the lives of vulnerable children along the Amazon River.
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