More on the ‘fullness of life’

Recently returned from a short break. Here as promised in the last post, is an update on my efforts to describe what it means to “live life to the full’ in the context of life lived out in the favelas.

My mother was fond of the proverbs ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ and despite her best efforts I am not the angel that fears to tread and it is only after I have done the rushing that I realise once again I am the ‘fool’.
The latest example being the suggestion that I would develop a criteria for the “the fullness of life ” and cringingly worse the further suggestion that I might then use this criteria to judge the extent to which ‘the fullness of life’ might be achieved by those living in the favelas.

I began by trying to understand what is meant by ‘fullness’ and wondered if it would become more clear if I substituted the word ‘fullness’ with ‘meaningfulness’ or maybe thought of it in terms of what a ‘a good life’ might look like.
This got me no nearer, so I began listing the kinds of things that might characterise the life of someone who I would describe as having ‘life in all its fullness’.
I soon became aware that I was framing it within the morality of Christian dogma and therefore there would be the element of self-sacrifice, joy and sadness. All of which are shared by world faiths and humanists, all of which I believe are essential to describing ‘ a life lived to the full’.
But there is another which I think makes the difference and which is essential to the ‘fullness’ and that is the taking up of a personally challenging situation.
But more of this when I have thought about it a little more,and in particular how this relates to the lives of those in the favelas.

What would you describe as ‘a full life’ ?

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..a life lived to the full..

I am a keen, though often ill prepared, member of a small reading group. We met last evening to discuss our latest read. As the evening came to a close we got into a very interesting discussion about what constitutes ‘a life lived to the full’, but with time running out we agreed to resume the discussion at our next meeting.

This morning I was again, considering this notion and wondering if you can have ‘a life lived to the full’ in the favela of Santa Teresa; home to many of the children who attend the Living & Learning project.

Over the next few days I will be away and hope to have some time for reflecting. As I packed my reading materials, recent birthday presents, I realised how useful they might be in helping me to unpack and explore these notions.

To ensure that I don’t just flit about and fizzle out with the thinking I am going to promise to post my conclusions within the week, which will have the double benefit of making me better prepared for the next reading group meeting.

It would be great to chatter and make this journey together.

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Green letter day

I am always absolutely thrilled when I have what I call a ‘green letter day’ that means news directly from the students  in Brazil.  This morning was ‘a green letter day’; a letter from from Renato in Cristino, written in English and telling us about his new school.

“Yes, I really like the school , the school has a good structure , good teachers, most teachers have undergraduate course. Another lesson that I like is, the teacher is one of the most qualified, he has seven courses, including: electronics technician in the area of computing, and of course physically. I took the opportunity of technical course in computer science (able to start next year in 2nd year high school) to learn more things in computer, how to program software.

The school is based on a test. To select their students, the college has three technical courses, concomitant with high school: Farming Technician, Nursing Technician and Computer Technician(which is what I do).”


Well done Renato, we look forward to hearing from you soon!

Student Renato begins new school

Renato awarded first VinB partnership bursary

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Going Global….a journey of discovery

With our partners CAFOD and Global Link we are pleased to present the final details of the Going Globalprogramme. The course theme is journeying and together we will make:

A journey within……. providing opportunities for you to explore your inner landscape – the roots of your spirituality, the foundations of your ethical outlook and motivation for action.

A journey into knowledge & understanding……. enabling you to explore development issues from a variety of perspectives and develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of Catholic Social Teaching and the work of CAFOD.

A journey into community…….. the opportunity to participate in the exposure visit to Brazil with twelve other people and together you will enter into the life, joys and struggles of communities across Brazil.

A journey into Brazilian life and culture……. Your journey across Brazil will be facilitated by experienced professionals from the UK and Brazil who have intimate knowledge and understanding of Brazilian life and culture.

The course starts in September 2011 and the venue of the meetings will alternate between Preston and Salford as this opportunity is open to all over the age of 18 in the two dioceses of Lancaster and Salford.

Closing date for applications: 1st July 2011 for those wishing to participate in the course and travel to Brazil ….and 2nd September 2011 for those wishing to participate only in the course.

For further information and an application form, contact the CAFOD Lancaster office on tel no 01772 733310 or email

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More of the festa

Monica is the larger than life supervising monitor in the Living and Learning project, who always seems to around if there is some fun to be had. Here she reflects on the best bits of the recent Mother’s Day party, which she and the volunteers helped the children to organise.

Big thank you to Rosalba for the translation.

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Securing the future

As you know we are busy with our partners exploring ways in which the Living & Learning project might become more self-sustaining. We want the future to be more secure for the staff, youngsters and their families who depend on the care and support that the project offers.

One idea we are exploring is the possibility of developing the convent facilities.

The convent is the provincial home of the teaching order of the Assumption Sisters it was once a thriving boarding school for girls. The self-contained classroom facilities that are now used for the Living & leaning project are situated a little lower down the hill. The exterior of the convent house as you can see is very attractive, it was purpose built to provide boarding accommodation for about sixty children. Now a residential conference centre it offers simple sleeping/study accommodation of various sizes with varying facilities and mostly used by religious groups.

We know that Rio is rapidly expanding as a commercial and tourist centre; British Airways announcement last month that it is doubling the number of weekly flights into Rio.
We have put together the growing need for business and tourist accommodation, and the capacity the convent has to meet some of that that need.

To sum up we are proposing that a number of dedicated rooms be upgraded let commercially to generate funding for the project.

The positives:
The expertise the sisters have in running an international conference centre
The Attractive hill top location overlooking the bay and within easy reach of the city centre
The tranquil and unique spiritual essence of the convent and its grounds.

The next steps:
To source capital to upgrade the rooms

We would love you to get involved and help us with your ideas, your experiences and as always we appreciate supportive comments.

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Mother’s Day….I wish you’d been there

Lessons were abandoned, programmes thrown out of the window, we were getting ready to party!
The kids and monitors and the volunteers got the place ship-shape. Everything cleaned, swept, desks put outside, and the the room made ready. That involved the kids making loads of different coloured paper hearts, cutting them out and sticking them on the wall. Goodness knows how many balloons were blown up and stuck on the ceiling and bunches put on the doors.

A big sign and heart displayed on a board saying ‘I love you Mum’, a special catwalk from the entrance to the diagonally opposite passage way for the mothers’ beauty parade, and of course making a crown and paper ribbon declaring the winner of this prestigious award.

Games, a scrumptious meal prepared by Monica and her crew, a slide presentation and then the children lined up, each with a lovely paper rose in their hands and a home made mother’s day card, the children sang as they presented the flower and card to their mothers. Beautiful, touching. Bringing tears to the mum’s eyes. It was…..just wonderful. And the kids were so proud.
The evening rounded off with hilarious sketches; amid laughter and satisfactory smiles, they melted into the night, and we swept and cleaned up…leaving a glow of happy memories in our minds; joy, unalloyed

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Seamus renews his visa

“Bureaucracy. Nightmare. Death by boredom. Ahhh.

For your visa you must not only report with your passport and visa to the Federal Police within thirty days, you must…
Taxi to airport, miles away. Fresh faced, good boy, here´s my passport and visa, thank you.
Where are your two photographs and documents?
These documents. These photographs. Fill them in, photocopy them and come back at 7.00am in the morning.
Go to town , get photographs, passport size, fill in documents. Up at 6.00 am, get taxi, arrive at 7.00 am. Continue reading

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Liverpool Carnival Company presents the biggest Brazilian samba carnival and Rio style street party in the UK. Check out the website
Volunteer in Brazil are planning to be there…come and join us ?

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Thank you Polly

Ever popular with  fund raisers the sponsored bicycle ride has triumphed again. Polly a former ‘Living and Learning’ project volunteer prompted by a blog post has raised £451.00.
The donation is on its way to Rio where it will be used to support staff salaries.

Thank you to Polly and to the generous family and friends who have supported her.

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