Girls From Brazil’s Slums Find Escape In Ballet

August 25, 2014

AP – Fox News Latino, 8/25/2014

Past the graffiti-covered overpass and subway tracks, in a slum penned in by high-rises, 8-year-old Gabriela Aparecida fixes her curly hair into a bun as she waits for a ride to her new favorite activity: ballet. Peeling back the tarp over the doorway, the skinny girl reaches out into the dirt alleyway to hug the church volunteer arriving to take her to dance class.

Growing up amid drug dealers and addicts, Gabriela has yet to learn how to read. Yet she and other girls from a rough neighborhood known as a “cracolandia,” or crackland, are learning the graceful art courtesy of a local church group that also offers them food, counseling and Bible studies. The class is among several groups where young dancers hope to catch the eye of a respected Brazilian ballerina who recruits dozens of disadvantaged girls for an annual workshop.

Twice a week, more than 20 girls, ages 5 through 12, board a Volkswagen van for a 10-minute ride to class, where they put on pink or black tights and ballet shoes donated by a dancewear store.

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Despite Brazil’s AIDS Efforts, HIV Infections Rise

August 11, 2014

Fox News Latino, 8/9/2014

The devastating news didn’t make sense to Brazilian Pierre Freitaz. How was it possible that, at age 17, he was infected with HIV if his only boyfriend seemed fit and healthy?

Freitaz confesses he knew little about the virus when he was diagnosed in 2004. He didn’t understand the difference between the infection and the disease it caused: AIDS. He was confused by the lack of obvious symptoms.

“It’s like I was living in a different part of the world, and I felt immune.”

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As Evangelical Clout Grows, Brazil May Face New Culture Wars

August 1, 2014

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – GPB News, 8/1/2014

Everaldo Dias Pereira known to his flock as Pastor Everaldo shakes the hands of potential voters at a shopping mall in a suburb of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

As he wishes them the peace of the Lord, a group of supporters shout out: “Enough of corruption, enough of people who don’t know the word of God. We want Pastor Everaldo.”

The pastor is running for president, and even though it is unlikely he will win polls show he only has 3 percent of the vote his socially conservative message resonates among many of the evangelical faithful.

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Temple in Brazil Appeals to a Surge in Evangelicals

July 25, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 7/24/2014

It occupies an entire block in this teeming megacity: a 10,000-seat rendition of Solomon’s Temple.

Towering in sharp relief against the graffiti-splattered tenements nearby, it beckons with monumental walls of stone imported from Israel and the flags of the dozens of countries where its owner, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is nourishing an evangelical Christian empire.

A helicopter landing pad will allow Edir Macedo, the 69-year-old media magnate who founded the Universal Church in a Rio de Janeiro funeral home in 1977, to drop in for sermons. The sprawling 11-story complex features other flourishes, too, like an oasis of olive trees similar to the garden of Gethsemane near Jerusalem, and more than 30 columns soaring toward the heavens.

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Friendly rhetoric from Pope Francis in Brazil. But will it translate into action?

July 30, 2013

Joanna Moorhead – The Guardian, 07/29/2013

I’ve travelled on “Shepherd One”, as the plane carrying the pope is known, and it’s very clear when you’re on board how keen the pope’s PR men – and yes (sigh) they are all men – are on declaring a foreign trip a “triumph”.

In the case of Francis’ visit to Brazil, they’re right. Today in Rio they’re calling their famous beachfront the “Popacabana” in tribute to the mass held there on Sunday, when three million camped on the sand to catch a glimpse of the pontiff on his first visit back to Latin America since being elected pope in March.

Virtually the worst thing that happened was when Francis’s tiny Fiat Punto took a wrong turning, prompting fears for his safety. Not only did he come to no harm, but the new message of slimmed-down frugality was well and truly noted.

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