Casa do Caminho Language Centre (CDC) was founded in 2009 by Bart Bijen, who was at that time the managing director of the Casa do Caminho orphanage in Xerem. Bart founded and funded the CDC, which is a separate entity and independent from Casa do Caminho in Xerem, with the objective to generate funds to pay for the expenses at the orphanage. Since its inception, the language center has experienced envious success. The innovative concept of offering high-quality courses at affordable prices, in a great location, and for a noble cause, has attracted hundreds of students from all over the world. The experience and quality of our native teachers, the vast number of free activities, and our international atmosphere, has made CDC the place to learn Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro.
Thanks to the support of CDC, the Casa do Caminho orphanage developed into a recognized NGO in Xerem. The orphanage had, among others, three childcare houses, a cultural center, and a biological farming project. It was a booming organization ready to become a paradigm for other philanthropies. In 2012, the President of the orphanage and Bart Bijen had a professional division due to differences in vision for the organization. Eventually, Bart decided to leave the organization out of respect for the President who was one of the founding members of Casa do Caminho. Despite Bart’s departure, CDC continued its financial support for the Orphanage in Xerem, sending every month exactly the same amount as before. Unfortunately, the organization in Xerem was crippled due poor management, governmental influence and bad fortune. The consequences of this chaos are summarized below:
- 2012 Casa do Caminho’s cultural center closed down (approximately 150 children lost activities such as percussion, theatre classes , and ballet )
- 2013 Two Casa do Caminho teenage houses had to close (teenagers were transferred to different orphanages and families. Some ended-up in good houses while others were not so fortunate.)
- 2014 Casa do Caminho house for the youngest children was closed.
Jascha Lewkowitz who became the managing director of the language school in 2010 has tried countless times to improve the situation of the orphanage, offering help and even willing to play an active role in Xerem. Despite his vast efforts, however, the board of directors of Casa do Caminho is not planning any reasonable changes. Because there are no children left in Casa do Caminho Xerem and as a result of the deficient management, CDC feels skeptical about the possibility of success of the new projects planned in Xerem. Based on the aforementioned facts, the board of directors of CDC has decided to stop its monthly support to Casa do Caminho Xerem effective in the month of May 2014. CDC will continue to monitor the developments and, if necessary and requested, we will gladly support a well-planned, organized, and transparent project that promotes education, culture, or sports for children around Xerem. This support, however, will only be conditional once Casa do Caminho Xerem regains our trust. We wish all people that are involved in the organization in Xerem, success, strength, wisdom and we hope that the organization will be successful with the restart of its original mission, helping the underprivileged.
Living Your Dream
One year ago, when the internal problems permeated around the Casa do Caminho orphanage, CDC started to support children of the orphanage directly. Davi, an ex-resident of the orphanage, was chosen to go on a one-year exchange program abroad with all expenses paid by CDC. Davi learned English, social and motor skills, and was prepared by volunteers in Brazil. In the Netherlands, Bart organized a complete program for Davi including: a host family, studying materials, English/Dutch teachers and (obviously) a spot in local soccer team. Davi has resided 7 months in the Netherlands and has accomplished such success that he has been featured on a documentary on Dutch National television:
When Diana Martinez, a volunteer at Casa do Caminho Xerem, offered her help to teach English to Davi, more children were eager to join the English classes. The children saw the incredible opportunity Davi had received due to his great personality and motivation. This is how “living your dream” was born. Today, 18 months after the beginning of the project, “living your dream” project has improved the lives of numerous children. The project is currently coordinated in Brazil by Diana Nijboer and has approximately 15 English students. With hard work, support of the language centre, individual donations and help of other organizations, living your dream is not only an organization that teaches English but also has:
- 2 children participating in Arte transforme.
- Private school for Luciano including theater. (Luciano Dreams to become an artist).
- Preparation course for Vitor. (Vitor dreams to become a Doctor)
- Escarlet will be on an exchange program in Spain for 6 months (KASKA ORGANISATION) (Escarlet dreams of becoming an architect).
- Approximately six 14-year old children will travel in 2014 to Poland for a cultural gathering in participation with Brave Kids.
* All participants are (former) residents of Casa do Caminho orphanage or underprivileged kids from the community.
The objectives of CDC remain unchanged-helping the disadvantaged children and teenagers of Brazil. CDC wants to have an active role for the children and teenagers of Brazil. For the coming months, some of CDC’s plans are: Cultural center and school in Rio de Janeiro- We want to offer a number of educational, cultural and social activities for children and teenagers in Rio. Ecological village on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. Some brothers and a sister who lived at Casa do Caminho where transferred to different orphanages in somewhat precarious conditions. We are now investigating option to reunite the family and guarantee that these talented kids will be able to go to school, attend courses and university. In the meantime, we continue with English classes in Xerem with ex-inhabitants of the orphanage and will probably start soon to offer a number of educational, cultural and social activities for children and teenagers in our language centre on times that there is space available (weekend/nights). This will be done under the name of Living Your Dream.
Thanks to all the volunteers who created the language school
With this newsletter we would like to give an extra attention to all volunteers that have worked as volunteer with us for the last 6 years. We are aware of the fact that without all the volunteers we would never have achieved: – To keep the financial support of the orphanage Casa do Caminho. – To create enormous amounts of special moment for children in Xerem. – A very successful language school – A Cultural centre – Living your dream You can follow our steps by browsing through our website and Facebook group. In our next newsletter we hope to provide a clear plan and vision about which direction we have chosen to go. We thank you for continuing to share this journey with us.
Jascha and Bart