Brazilian Student Calls on People to Back University-Supported Charity Ahead of World Cup

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A Brazilian student who has spent the last five months studying at the University of Worcester has called for more people to back an international campaign to eradicate the exploitation of children, ahead the football World Cup.

The ‘It’s A Penalty’ campaign, led by three international charities - the UK-based Happy Child International, the A21 campaign and the Jubilee Campaign - is aiming to raise awareness of the issue among football fans travelling to tournament, which kicks off in Sao Paulo tomorrow.

The campaign is being supported by the University of Worcester; in April, a team of six University lecturers and students presented at an international football development course in Brazil, where they publicised the work of the charities.

Now Carolina Simon, who has been studying within the University of Worcester’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science for the semester, has given her support to the campaign on the eve of football’s showpiece competition.

Carolina has called for the many international visitors, and the millions set to watch the World Cup from across the world, to look beyond the carnival atmosphere, beautiful beaches and festival of sport, to the problems that continue to blight Brazil’s many ‘favelas’.

“It’s great that the University of Worcester is supporting this charity,” she says. “The fact that people from the other side of the world are trying to do something about Brazil’s problems might give people a wake-up call.

“Most people in Brazil do care, but our hands are tied – we don’t have the money to do as much as we’d like to do. We need cash to pay the bills, to pay for food for the children and to pay for the teachers.

“That’s why support from people in the UK or elsewhere would be such a huge help for us and for these children.

Back home in Sao Paulo, Carolina volunteers much of her time to help street children through the Grupo da Fraternidade Emmanuel – Emmanuel Group of Fraternity – which has been carrying out its work for over 30 years.

She explains: “I’m a Christian, and at our church we are taught that we need to do charity work and use our time to help others. My whole family are involved with the group, and my mother has been taking me there since I was about three years old.

“Every Saturday, we have around 300 children come in from the local community. We play with them, sing with them and try to teach them how to be good people and stay away from things like drugs and crime.

“This is a major problem in Brazil. Sao Paulo is one of the wealthiest cities in the country, but many people are caught in a cycle that we need to break. Parents are addicted to drugs or to alcohol, so their children don’t know the value of work or of education, and they don’t study and end up going the same way as their parents,” she adds.

“I’m really lucky to have my mother, who is caring and supportive, so I recognise this and I really want to help kids with parents who don’t care.”

Grupo da Fraternidade Emmanuel, where Carolina has volunteered for over 15 years, also has an orphanage in Sao Paulo. The group distribute medication and food to local children, whilst trying to educate them.

“I mainly work with eight to ten year-olds,” Carolina says. “The majority of them can’t read or write their name, so trying to teach them any Maths or Portuguese is very hard work. Likewise, my mother works with 13-17 year-olds, and very few of them can count.”

The World Cup is the first of two major sporting events in three years in Brazil, with Rio de Janeiro set to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016.

Carolina is pictured with Worcester Students' Union Vice President, Lee Collyer, and Glyn Harding, Principal Lecturer in Sports Coaching Science. For more information on the It’s A Penalty campaign, visit