Brazilian Toy Libraries Bring Out the Child in Us All

CCF Brazil has established 24 toy libraries in several rural communities which serve nearly 600 children and 300 adolescents daily. Discarded socks, aluminum cans, and corncobs may look like trash to some, but to nine-year-old Junior of Brazil, they are balls, cars, and dolls in the making.

Junior makes toys when he visits the toy library set up by his Christian Children's Fund project, Federacao Sao Goncalo Do Rio Preto. At the library, he can also play with commercially made toys that his family could not otherwise afford, and learn music, stories and games important to his community and culture.

Junior's participation in the library has helped him develop closer ties with friends and better relationships with his three siblings.

According to Obedes Barbosa Soares, CCF Brazil's program director, toys "play a meaningful role" in a child's interaction with others. "They are essential for the human being's emotional, intellectual and physical health," he said.

CCF Brazil began the toy library program in 1999, primarily in rural communities, where access to entertainment and toys is limited. Specially trained child educators run the libraries, which are set up wherever space can be found—rooms inside the project's headquarters and even outdoor sheds.

The libraries are guided by "the culture of the child," said Soares. "It is the culture of activity, fantasy, discovery and imagination."

Storytellers, and folk song and dance groups regularly appear at the libraries. Luis, a father of three sponsored children, plays guitar for a group called "Folia de Reis" ("Revelry of Kings") that practices once a week in the local toy library. The group teaches children songs and dances, and reconnects them with their roots. At Christmas time, "Folia de Reis" goes performing door-to-door, to raise money for the poor.

CCF-Brazil operates 24 libraries and hopes to open another 25 in 2001. For a relatively small investment, project staff is able to create a space where, according to Soares, "children and adults can share joy, relive their traditions and build a better world."

Copyright 2004. Christian Children's Fund. All Rights Reserved.
This story was submitted by the Christian Children's Fund

Links and Resources:
(English /Inglês)
CCF's Toy Libraries - More about the Toy Libraries
CCF Brazil - an overview of CCFs efforts in Brazil
Donate a Toy Library - Help build a new toy library or donate to other CCF Projects in a loved ones name.

(Portuguese /Português)
CCF Brasil - O Fundo Cristão para Crianças e as Brinquedotecas dela.

"Brinquedoteca" = "Toy Library"