2010 Expedition Dates March 15th, 2010
February 28th – March 7th
May 9th- 16th
August 8th-22nd (youth trip–ages 14-18)
February 28th – March 7th
May 9th- 16th
August 8th-22nd (youth trip–ages 14-18)
This week a group of Black Diamonds are setting out on their own wonderful journey of heatbreaking wide open experiences at the MORE Project in Brazil. The MORE Project hosts at least 4 Service Expeditions every year that everyone is invited to participate on. It is just once a year that we host the Black Diamonds on a breakneck speed, whirlwind tour of the projects and impact regions that MonaVie touches in the north of Brazil. And then we roll up our sleeves in Rio where the MORE Project is centered.
This is brief report of one our wonderful volunteers on the VIP expedition last year…
9/4/09 – Day 5: Rio de Janeiro
All the experiences up until this point – swimming with the pink dolphins, fishing for piranhas, shucking acai berries – are nothing compared to what I experienced today. It was life changing.
We began today by landing in Rio de Janeiro and heading to Village MonaVie, the property where the distributors stay when they visit. It’s also the site of a glorious future for the children of the community. Still in the construction and planning stages, when completed the Village will house up to 500 children who would otherwise be lost to the system. It will also be equipped with a pool, playground, soccer field and other amenities that cater to the children’s needs. The vision for this place is extraordinary. I can’t wait to see it completed!
The MORE Project is comprised of a handful of programs that cater to the local community.
There are other programs and more in the making, but these few are the ones we were able to experience first hand.
At The MORE Project, I spent the afternoon playing with many kids but there was one very special boy with the most beautiful smile named Joe. We were kindred spirits from the start. Though bound to his crutches due the fact that his legs don’t work properly, he is still extremely outgoing. Having been bound to wheelchairs and crutches for significant parts of my life, I empathized with Joe and his desire to push his body, not letting the paralysis define him.
Our afternoon consisted of a few rousing games of foosball. I’m definitely not as good as he or the other kids were, but that was ok because they didn’t gloat during their victory. Instead they tried to teach me techniques on how to flick my wrist so that I had more power when I hit the ball. Try understanding that in Portuguese!
As Joe got tired from standing at the foosball table, we moved to a nearby bench. There was broken conversation full of laughter as we tried to make one another understand. Then Joe decided to teach me a Brazilian hand clapping game – similar to “Miss Mary Mack” – called “Ela Morena.” However, unlike the games I had played as a kid where speed was the objective, in this game there were rules. You begin by joining hands and swinging them back and forth. Then clap 2 times and with a show of fingers pick a number between 0 and 5. If you and your partner choose the same number, then you hit each other’s hands twice. If you pick different numbers, then you hit your chest twice.
Sounds easy right? Not so much when the concept of same and different numbers is lost in translation. But Joe was persistent and after about 15 min, I finally understood. It’s a slightly addictive game and we played up until the moment I had to leave for Vila Ipiranga. Our last game took place on the steps of The MORE Project entrance. My heart yearned to stay with him, but I know I’ll be back to play another round.
At Vila Ipiranga, we saw how these kids live. Some of their homes are falling apart. Some live 8 or 9 to a room. As I looked at all these homes, my heart was filled with bliss because though they have nothing they were so happy. They played in the streets where dirt and broken piping mix, not knowing anything different. Their joy is infectious. You couldn’t be sad when they were so happy, all you could do was figure out how you can help even just one child or one family. Some times I think they help us more than we help them.
That’s when I made a promise to myself (and now you all know), to work this business so that I can come back to Brazil and give one of these families something MORE to be joyous about. Whether it’s by sponsoring a new home or helping put one of them through school. These kids need to know that there are people out there that are willing to help them reach their dreams and I want to be one of those people. I want to be of significance. It was a wonderful revelation! Knowing this, a note to all my friends: please help keep me on track to reach my goal.
Trip Notes & Video: MORE Project Brazil Expedition 2010
When I signed on to the MORE Project Brazil Expedition, I knew we were going down there to change lives. What I didn’t realize was that the life most profoundly changed, would be my own.
Having been involved with the MORE Project, donating money and even sponsoring a child from here in the states, I thought I knew what to expect when I got down to Brazil. I was wrong. The first-hand experience of being there is nothing like I ever dreamed.
Brazil in many ways is a dream – a beautiful, tropical land. And in other ways, it is a nightmare – 6 million people living in Rio De Janiero alone with over one million of them living in “favellas” – Brazilian for ghetto; 1 out of 6 people living below the poverty level – 25 million in the country living on $2 a day; and 7.5 million Brazilian children living on the streets – many of them sold for prostitution.
Poverty is nothing new to me; I’ve seen horribly poor areas in countries all over the world. But nothing compares to the depth of poverty we experienced in Brazil. There are 1,140 favellas in Rio De janiero alone where families live 4 or more in an 8 x 10 room. These “homes” consiste of mattresses lining the dirt floors. When it rains, the room becomes muddy and damp, but the occupants have no where else to go. They somehow make do.
But these are only numbers – the real story of Brazil is told in the faces of the poor – in the faces of the children. It was wonderful to meet the children we’ve been sponsoring face-to-face. So wonderful, actually, that I came home with the hopes of sponsoring four more: Gabriella who is 2 years old and her brother who is 4, Ingrid and Douglas both at age 14.
We met with Sergio Ponce, one of the driving forces behind Monavie Village, who’s vision began with sixty needy children and now encompasses 2,000 children and adults – a number soon to double. Monavie Village includes a brand new day care facility which opened while we were there. They also have created a mother’s house, Believers one and two and a professional school.
Monavie Village is a ray of light in an otherwise dark world. Looking across the landscape at a favella, as far as you can see – there are discarded people. Amazingly when you get closer to them – to each individual – there is HOPE in their eyes. How, amidst all this poverty and lack, can there be hope? I believe that the MORE Project which stands for Monavie Operation Rescue along with Monavie Village and all the support and educational programs have planted these seeds of hope in the favellas. Through us – the Monavie family – and our deeds, this discarded population knows that there are many, many people in the world who DO CARE and love them. The rehabbed homes we help to build shine out from the shanties that surround them like beacons of hope for all who live there.
You and I and everyone that drinks and distributes Monavie are part of that hope. Every bottle sold helps to change the world for the poorest of the poor in Brazil.
Xiaoli Mei with one of the children at the Never Better House Daycare.
The MORE Project is so happy to bring you stories of our expeditioners from the field. February 28th through march 8th we had a group of 13 participants join the team in Brazil and serve on a construction project and with the kids at the brand new day care center. While they are down there doing so much good for others, don’t forget the wonderful change this kind of service brings to our own hearts. The MORE Project’s own Mindy Relyea lead the group and sent this note back to us on the second day.
“U would not believe our day! Sooo productive. Our construction guys built a two teired railing all around the never better for the toddlers…then covered it with mesh…we painted all the walls of the out door kitchen, put rock and gravel to create a new path on both sides of the property leading up to the house….hard long labor, but soo great! Louisa made a beautiful lunch that we ate outside with the workers and women of the crèche. Lina is beside herself she is so happy and the group is full of pride and new calluses! Then we weeded all the gardens, which is perfect because the soil is soft and wet…it’s been such a wonderful day… Sergio has been with us, so supportive and upbeat!”
Laura Hernandez with her new Sponsored Child–the start of a very happy “family”