On 28th July last the non-government organisation Diaconia celebrated its forty-fifth birthday with
a thanksgiving cult in the Presbyterian Church of Recife, in the Graças district. The celebration
was based on the theme, “Why Struggle for Civil Rights?”, and brought together representatives of
civil society, church members and partners, as well as staff and people whose lives have been
transformed through the services provided by the Organisation.
Among those who addressed the assembly was twenty-two year old, Ms Camila Rago, who lives in the Morro da Conceição District. She is a former participant in the Crescendo no Morro Project, which began in 2002 with workshops on drama, soccer, creative reading, dancing among other activities for the children and adolescents in that District. The District is known in Recife for its solid working class mobilisation in resolving its structural problems, such as education and public security.
By 2008, the year the project was completed, children, adolescents and later young adults
participated in social interventions and reflections on communications as a human right and on
digital inclusion. "The project helped to identify myself as a person and as a professional. In
addition, I participated in the student exchange programme, “Communication for Change”, in Norway in 2011; and I got to know that there were young people in different parts of the country that want the same as I do; and that made me reflect on our role in the world. I believe it is my role to bring more people into this struggle," says Rago.
The young lady studied, graduated in Social Service and is one of the Organisation’s professionals who will help other young people in the Metropolitan Region of Recife to develop, and to strive for their rights and find their place in Society. Besides Camilla, there are other youth who feel the desire to serve the people in their communities.
André Luiz de Araujo, 36, who lives in the Boa Vista District, in Recife, is married and is HIV
positive. He recounted how years ago he went through a hard time in his marriage. His wife, also HIV positive was, at the time, suffering from depression. Worse still, the couple could not confide in the people closest to them. "People did not know about our situation and I decided to take some time out for myself to think and reflect about what to do with my life. It was then that God revealed Himself to me: I came upon the booklet “AIDS and the Church”. That booklet is something holy and it touched me. I read it with my wife and the reading strengthened us, and we felt more at ease in talking about HIV/AIDS with people close to us," says Araújo.
However, he did not feel satisfied with just having access to the booklet, a publication of Koinonia
in partnership with Diaconia. Araujo met people who knew the Institution and was encouraged by the team from the now defunct Churches Service Activity Aid Programme (PAADI) to take part in a training course on HIV/AIDS Vulnerability and Reproductive Sexual Rights. Today, Andre Luiz is one of the educators who form educators, passing on the teaching they received to many other people, who, like they used to be, may be in need of information and acceptance.
These human life stories are just two among so many that have had their lives transformed through a human social development work that is strengthening not only the churches, but also all the social organisations that are involved in this cause. Diaconia has served Society and is interested in people, in what they can come to be and the transformations that they can experience. Restoring dignity to people: this has been our motivation.
"Diaconia was present throughout my adolescence and continues as I now face into adulthood. It came to strengthened my desire to play my part in striving for a more just society."
Camila Rago – Recife/PE
"What used to be a shame today is cause for joy. It is a joy to talk about God and His work in humanity."
André Luiz de Araújo – Recife/RN