Her father was killed because of drugs. Her mother and older brother are in jail because of drugs. Because of drugs, she is effectively orphaned. Marijuana and crack cocaine willingly claim their victims and leave the children to suffer.
Natalia is twelve years old. She can’t read or write. She and her younger brothers, Rodrigo and Tiago, are being raised in a favela by their older sister.
(Image: Natalia in her home)
As we entered her slum community, we were warned to not take photographs on the approach because a drug-gang lookout was posted to watch and assess all who entered. I managed to get a quick shot off before being noticed.
(Image: Natalia's favela)
Having successfully negotiated that first obstacle, Natalia proudly toured me around her home, a two-storied wooden shanty divided into four small rooms by sheets hanging from the ceiling. She showed me her humble room on the second floor, visibly excited that somebody from the U.S. would actually come in and see it. She will now be able to tell all her friends that a ‘special visitor from America’ visited her home and room.
(Image: The stairs up to Natalia's room)
Natalia is one of the 200 slum and street children that are touched by Projeto Vida Nova (Project New Life), a ministry of the Alliance Church that sits amongst pockets of favelas in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She knows about Jesus and actively participates in the programs offered at the center.
Natalia is certainly not free from the dangers of drugs. Thugs may still recruit or force her to be a drug mule or dealer. She is also a pretty girl that will have difficulty escaping the eyes of child prostitution and trafficking rings. In the slums, evil always lurks around the next corner. It comes in many forms.
But the Church knows her and loves her. She will be watched over closely...and relentlessly prayed for.
Please join in the communion of prayer for her and her brothers now.
(Image: Paul with Natalia's little brother, Tiago)