- NATIONAL CATHOLIC REGISTER - Edward Pentin - 2 MAR, 2023 -
The headquarters of the charity, which serves as a ‘consecrated family’ to 46 disabled children, were badly damaged in major flooding near Rio de Janeiro last year
A Brazilian charity that cares for disabled and abandoned children, most of whom survived abortion attempts, is appealing for help after a devastating flood damaged its primary care home last year.
Antonio Carlos Tavares de Mello (“Tonio”), the founder of the Jesus Menino Community, reported the charity’s headquarters in Petropolis were badly damaged in the February 2022 floods, which caused major landslides, took 231 lives and left $200 million in damage.
“Dear friends, we present through this project our great need,” Tonio wrote in the appeal published on Wednesday. “With the heavy rains that hit Petropolis, our house was badly damaged. A large part of the roof was damaged and the amount of leaking inside the accommodation has increased.”
He said the charity is therefore seeking funds to “repair the roof and the internal and external areas of the headquarters.”
The house provides shelter for 19 of the charity’s 46 children who suffer from neurological diseases and visual and mental disabilities. The building also contains the charity’s chapel, kitchen and laundry room.
In an interview with the Register in November 2021, Tonio recalled the remarkable story of how the charity was formed. After recognizing the intense suffering of these children in 1988, he grew angry with God over their total abandonment.
“How can you leave them here like that? How can they live?” he remonstrated, to which he heard the reply: “Then give your life to them. Stay with them.”
The charity has adopted more than 100 children, and now has a house in Brasilia with another in Portugal. Each facility provides care for boys and girls who have psychological and physical disabilities, mostly brought on by unsuccessful abortions caused by drugs or other methods.
Tonio explained that the headquarters is a “kind of farm, a camp, so there are lot of little houses with different areas.
“It’s called ‘The Little City of Mary,’” he told the Register. “There’s a school, a part for animals, a chapel. There are lay consecrated, an association of laypeople, that help, and always we have a chaplain as a spiritual guide. During the day there’s a lot of normal work and moments of prayer, there’s silence in the house — the silence of Nazareth,” he explained.
The charity, he stressed, is “not an NGO or a clinic but a consecrated family.”
Brazil’s ambassador to Washington, Nestor Forster Jr., has praised the community for its work, calling the Jesus Menino Community an “embassy of Heaven on Earth.”