Projeto Crescer is located in a very poor area in the State of Bahia, Brazil. This poor community,
called Lagoa dos Patos (Ducks' Lake), has over two thousand inhabitants, all living in small
houses with no sewer. They have low income as a result of their low level of education.
Many of the adults living in that community are illiterate.
Projeto Crescer was founded in 2000 to provide these children with the education and environment they need to flourish. Rather than having to deal all on their own with the instability of unstructured families, the uncertainty in a community overtaken by gangs and drug dealers who want to recruit them, and the low level schooling and social education available to them, they can count on assistance from Projeto Crescer.
We started with only 18 children and now, 19 years later, we assist 300 children and teenagers, in addition to many of their family members. Projeto Crescer offers the tools to supplement the children’s formal education, and to address their personal, family and community problems. We provide them with the opportunity to develop mind, body and spirit; and to become resilient, independent and productive members of society. We assist children with many programs, which you can learn more about in our making a difference page.
The results of the past several years of activities with the children have been excellent. The children
are healthier, better educated and more socially conscious. They have acquired good hygiene
habits and exert a positive influence on their families, friends and neighbors. With the Projeto’s assistance, many start working when they are of age and contributing to their family’s income.
Some are hired by the Projeto and work with us to help other children.
Our Mission is to help build physical, mental, emotional and social well-being through a complete educational program for the children living in a slum community in
the state of Bahia, Northeast Brazil.
A Message From Our Founder
I believe that all people have beauty and value and are worthy of living to their fullest development.
I am Wania Howard. My life’s Mission and Work is to help marginalized children overcome the chasm of disparity caused by the socioeconomic inequities within the Brazilian class system. It is
a Purpose that requires a Village.
As a proud Mother of one daughter, a Brazilian-American, a Legacy Builder, and an ardent Community Sociologist, I have the great fortune to operate Projeto Crescer, a not-for-profit community outreach and educational organization in Bahia, Brazil. I founded and opened the organization in August 2000, as a place of new beginnings for over 150 families in the low income and high crime-ridden community of Lagoa dos Patos (State of Bahia, Brazil).
My initiative began with the compelling stories of pregnant women (some with absent partners), who were dwelling in squalid conditions, lacking proper sewage for waste, and unable to imagine a greater future for themselves or their unborn children. It was then that I decided to repurpose my life focus on the lives and hopes of their disenfranchised children. I got my first footprint into helping young people by developing prevention programs where I was able to recruit staff and volunteers who could mentor, encourage, and nurture students to rise above their circumstances and societal-imposed barriers.
It is Projeto Crescer’s ongoing objective to mobilize other Legacy Builders to generate resources that will help us provide some of our childrens’ practical needs and offer them guidance and cultural exposure--for a chance to experience a good life and their many gifts that this world needs to be better together. Presently, I organize two annual fundraising events. They are always fun, and all proceeds are used to pay for educational programs, healthcare support, food and other needs of the Projeto Crescer children.
Projeto Crescer volunteers, including residents and community partners, serve students from ages
3-17 who are attending public school and performing below grade level. We provide free services: a nutritional program, personal hygiene essentials, reading and mathematics tutorials/workshops, sports; there are also theater classes, computer training and music lessons. Qualified educators give vigorous instruction to get our kids to grade level and a higher literacy. Through our sustainable partnership with professional arts organizations, our students can receive violin and viola lessons from an experienced violinist professional. Some of our students, who participate in judo, have become competitors who diligently worked their way to an annual judo competition to win 1st and 2nd place awards.
I am deeply humbled and grateful that Projeto Crescer thrives vibrantly as a beacon of bright hope in the midst of brokenness and poverty within the Lagoa dos Patos neighborhood. As a Village, we have been privileged to witness student successes, as well as the unfortunate setbacks. We remain impassioned, inspired, and committed to our children, the best investment for the future.
In my everyday life, I reside in Oviedo, Florida, close to my only daughter and granddaughter, Fabiola and Isabella. I live an active life filled with love, giving, and simple pleasures like ballroom dancing in Downtown Orlando.
It is my honor to invite you to also visit our Brazilian website and see how we are making a difference. If you would like to attend our next fun event, please contact me at , and we’ll include you in our emailing list. We hope to see you there!
Wania Howard, Founder
(authored by Barbara Chandler)