ALEX SANDRO DE LIMA INSTITUTO
Alex Sandro de Lima was, by all means, a remarkable fellow in the Fellowship Program at Avenues São Paulo. All fellows and teachers interviewed in preparation for this report mentioned him with a kind of awe. Mainly, it seems, because here’s someone who gets things done. In 2012, when he founded Instituto Projeto Sonhar (Project Dream Institute), Alex was mainly focused on reaching out to young drug users and those in trouble with the law, like street dealers. But he noticed that the majority of these adolescents had a history of repeated violation of their rights and of domestic violence, sexual or otherwise. Drugs, as he saw it, were a refuge from trauma.
So, a couple of years back, he shifted gears to focus entirely on children between the ages of 0 and 14. To break the cycle at an earlier stage in these kids’ lives. “My own life was the basis for experience. I come from a troubled home, my father was an alcoholic who lost his life to alcohol”, Alex explains. He is from a large southern district of São Paulo, Capão Redondo, which encompasses several socially vulnerable neighborhoods and communities. A place Avenues’ students visited for the first time before social isolation was imposed, and which is as remote from their realities it could possibly be.
Alex’s institute works around five axes: health, education, work and income, citizenship, and housing, focusing on children in vulnerable or dangerous environments. Families are treated together, as a whole, including psychological or psychiatric treatments and social and legal assistance in cases such as domestic abuse, child support, restraining orders, protective measures, and access to daycare. And all of it comes together due to the many partnerships that Alex has established, all over the city. “The Fellowship was incremental in strengthening our network, extending our reach to meet new partners”, summarizes Alex. “We received many donations and we, the fellows, exchanged services between ourselves. It was of major value.”