Featured Profiles


April 10, 2017

This is Brenda

“I came to the University of Life this year because my friends told me about a place where the teachers really care and where you can learn really cool stuff.

They were right, here I feel loved and special. We learn things that we don’t learn at school and most importantly, I feel safe.

When I grow up I want to be a doctor because I want to help people.”

Read more about Brenda’s story growing up in the slums of Brazil.

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Curious About The Cook

February 21, 2017

In recent months many of you have asked us about The University of Life’s new cook and how she is getting on filling the shoes of our previous cook, Silvia.

Well, this is Cristina, she is 29, married and has two beautiful little girls. Over the last year she has been working with us and  into our hearts (through our stomachs!).

Cristina has gradually made the kitchen her own and won the hearts of the children as well. She’s a wonderful part of the team and offers valuable insight from her unique perspective.


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Team Building

March 5, 2016

The second term of the year is well underway in Brazil and students are getting used to the daily routine of the project. Over the last few months they have come to understand that The University of Life is a place they can count on to be open and welcoming, with teachers they can trust and depend on.

Our theme for the year is discipline and for the last few weeks students have been learning what it means to be a disciplined person in family life, at school, as a citizen and caring for the environment and people around us.

Classrooms have been turned into project spaces and teachers are forging strong relationships with their pupils. This is essential in preparation for the more challenging activities that we will introduce to the children in the second half of the year.


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January 28, 2015

Imagine what it must be like for a child living in a community surrounded by rubbish, sewage, noise, and violence, to enter through  the gates of The University of Life for the first time. Now imagine how that child might feel, being told that this place with open space, green grass friendly teachers and exciting activities, was for them to participate in and enjoy.

Maria Eduarda is 9 years old and in her third year at the project. She is an only child and lives with her mother and father. Like so many of the young children that enter the project at the age of 7, Maria was very timid, lacking in confidence and social skills. It took her a while to start believing that The University of Life was really a place for her to enjoy. Step by step she has begun to accept the friendship and encouragement being offered to her.

Today Maria participates in everything and barely misses a day. She has become a tremendous example to other students always showing friendship and always being a peacemaker. This year Maria won a certificate for her overall progress and has told us that when she grows up she wants to be a solicitor.


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January 10, 2015

Eric is just starting his third year at The University of Life.  He is a super intelligent little boy and very perceptive about the people around him.

Eric lives with a family relative because his young parents abandoned him and are separated. Emotionally Eric is younger than his 9 years suggest. He loves attention and has clearly missed out on physical bonding and emotional stability that a loving mother and father could have offered.

In the classroom Eric is a helpful boy, always willing to help out and very tuned into good and bad behaviour. We have noticed him distancing himself from students which typically cause trouble.

Eric says that he would like to be a doctor but he is aware of his poverty and afraid that he won’t be able to achieve his dreams. Please pray for Eric, that he will gain self-confidence and not let his doubts shadow his obvious gifts and talents.

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December 15, 2014

Shortly after her birth, Katiane was abandoned by her mother. In the favelas of Brazil this means that an already precarious young life, vulnerable to disease and poverty is put and an even greater level of risk. However, today Katiane is 9 years old and man who saved her life and brought her to The University of Life to study is her Father.

Katiane’s father is young and only has a few years of education himself. He finds occasional work but lives below the poverty line. He wasn’t planning on becoming a father but unlike his peers (many of whom have abandoned the responsibility of fatherhood), Katiane’s father has embraced the gift of a daughter.

Each day, he personally brings Katiane to the door of her classroom, greets her friends and kisses her goodbye. He is the only father of all the University of Life students who does this and he is a real life superhero to all of Katiane’s friends. On a regular basis UNiViDA helps parents like Katiane’s father to tackle the challenges of parenthood and encourages them to take an active role in their children’s education. Juggling parenthood and trying to find work is a constant battle and The University of Life is a lifeline for many struggling families.

Katiane loves the project and is just beginning her third year. Life in the slums is still challenging and dangerous but at least for Katiane it is made better with a loving family. Katiane needs help for her daily physical, spiritual and educational nourishment. When she grows up she wants to be a vet so that she can look after animals like the ones she sees suffering and underfed in the slums.

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Like A Bag Of Gold

July 7, 2014

Kauan lives about 5 miles away from the glamorous Castelão stadium where we’ve all been watching World Cup matches in Fortaleza. However, he can only dream of an opportunity to see the stadium from the outside, let alone ever go inside to watch a match.

Kauan is 7 years old and in year 2. He lives with his 3 brothers in a simple shack in the slum. His father finds odd jobs as a gardener and his mother looks after the children in the home.

Kauan is hungry. There is rarely enough food in his home to feed four young boys and as a result, he is a very thin and small for his age.

At the University of Life Kauan looks small and vulnerable. He enjoys all the activities and but often struggles to concentrate in the classroom. At the beginning of the day he often mentions that he is tired or hungry.

Kauan’s friends despite only being 7 or 8 themselves are quick to notice the signs of hunger. Most of them have experienced it themselves and can easily relate to Kauan’s situation.

A few weeks ago, some of his friends came to us asking if they could collect some items and make a food parcel for Kauan’s family. “Of course!” we replied and despite shortages in their own families, the children did their best bringing in rice, pasta and beans. With a little extra help from UNiViDA, a food parcel with enough food for a month, was put together and given to Kauan’s family.

It’s like having a bag of gold”, remarked Kauan a few days later as he enthusiastically shared the experiences of his family enjoying their gift together.

I’ve never had sardines before” commented Kauan, “I love them and when I get home I’m going to have some more!”

Meeting the very basic needs of children and their parents is the first step in the journey for UNiViDA. Even though our focus is on delivering education, children like Kauan don’t have a chance at learning if they are tired and undernourished.

At the project we cook over 3,000 meals a month. We want parents and the children to know that we are primarily concerned with their child’s well-being.

Kauan’s parents who are very poor, desperately need someone in the community who is on their side, supporting them and encouraging them to stay together as a family.

Because UNiViDA can offer this kind of support, Kauan’s parents are encouraged, knowing their children are safe, fed and cared for. With the kids safe during the day, they are able to do their best to earn a living, knowing that their children are receiving quality education.

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June 18, 2014

Oderlania is 14 years old and in year 5 at The University of Life. She lives in a very precarious situation in a small shack at the side of an open sewer in the slums. She has 4 brothers and sisters and is looked after by her mother.

In order to survive, Oderlania’s mother wakes up at 5am each day and goes out onto the streets to collect rubbish which she can sell for recycling.

Francisca, Oderlania’s mother, believes greatly in the importance of education and desperately wants her children to benefit from the services that UNiViDA offers. However, for the last few years, Oderlania has been unable to come to the project because she was needed to look after her younger siblings.

This year Oderlania has been able to return to The University of Life with two of her younger sisters. She faces many challenges but says, “I don’t want to be like other girls my age who are all prostitutes or already pregnant.”

Please pray for Oderlania, you can see that she has already lived a very difficult life. She is a blessing to us and we love to serve her and see her smile, learn and enjoy being in the safe and peaceful environment of the project.


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Robbie (and his cheeky grin!)

March 24, 2014

Robbie is 9 years old and is just beginning his third year at the project. Despite his cute face and irresistible smile, Robbie’s life is far from easy.

His parents have never lived together and he was born as a result of an unplanned pregnancy. Robbie’s mother is a drug user and his father (a drug dealer) does not accept that Robbie is his son.

Today Robbie lives with his paternal grandfather but is often caught up in a complicated existence being tossed around between family members.

Robbie is an intelligent, fun and often cheeky little boy! Two years ago he could not read or write but he recently passed his 2nd year tests with flying colors and is very pleased with himself. In the classroom he is a helpful and perceptive student.

Robbie says… “Teacher, when I grow up I want to have a normal family and be a children’s doctor so that I can help sick children.”

Robbie loves The University of life, particularly his friends and chapel time on Fridays. Thanks to your support we are able to encourage and support him each day.

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Ben’s Story

February 11, 2014

Ben is 14 and he’s a charming and caring young man. He has 3 brothers, his father is retired and his mother works in the small home they rent in the slum. The family has a very small fixed income from Ben’s fathers’ pension.

Ben has been with us for 3 years but despite his age, he is only able to study at the level of a year 5 student.  He needs special instructions, lots of help and is very slow to process the instructions. However, Ben is always willing to have a try and perseveres despite the pressure of his colleagues and his own frustrations.

At The University of Life our teachers often meet to discuss strategies and methods for teaching children like Ben with special needs.

When he grows up Ben says he wants to be football player because they are fast and he wants to be fast. Ben has a special place in our hearts because of his exceptional care and concern for those around him and his determination to overcome his challenges. His mother tells us that at The University of Life, Ben feels at peace and treated as an equal to his peers.

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