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A safe place to call home

March 2016

Casa Noeli dos Santos is the only church-run safe house in Brazil, and provides a refuge for women such as Fran, fleeing domestic violence.

  • God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present help in trouble.
    Therefore we will not fear…
    God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
    God will help it when the morning dawns.'

Psalm 46:1-2,5

Gender-based violence is a profound injustice to the women who experience its many forms. Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic, apparent in every region and every country.

Casa Noeli dos Santos, the safe house featured in Christian Aid’s Easter Appeal, is the only church-run refuge in Brazil for women experiencing violence.

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Established in the city of Ariquemes by Christian Aid partner SADD, the diaconal programme of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, its director is a priest in that church, Reverend Elineide Ferreira.

In 2013, Head of Christian Aid Scotland, Kathy Galloway visited Casa Noeli dos Santos and met Elineide.

'I was quite unprepared for the slight 27 year-old woman who welcomed us into Noeli dos Santos, the safe house, and shared its work and hopes with us.

'Surely the task of offering sanctuary to up to ten women and their children, in very basic surroundings, with little statutory support, and in a culture of impunity, which sees violence against women as normal and acceptable, was too great for such slim shoulders?

'What could it really mean to say, "God is with us", when threat, abuse, pain and loss are the daily reality for these women and their children? How is it possible not to fear in the face of such intimate violence?'

Reverend Elineide is a pioneer of extraordinary courage and faith.

Moved by her desire not just to care about situations in which women are victims, but also to change how women are seen, that they may be known and respected as persons with equal dignity and worth in the eyes of God, she has become, in her own person, a refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

As she says: 'our priesthood is most expressed when we are open to everyone.'

Regina, one woman helped by the safe house to break free from the cycle of violence, says: 'This is like a family to me; I will always be able to count on this house and the people here.'

  • God,
    You are my sanctuary and my light,
    my firm ground when the earth cracks
    under the weight of warring gods.
    As a woman in mortal danger flees to her sisters
    and finds refuge,
    so you will comfort me,
    and dress my wounds with tenderness.
    And when the flame of courage burns low in me,
    your breath, as gentle as a sleeping child,
    will stir the ashes of my heart.

Kathy Galloway

Find out more

Read more stories from Casa Noeli dos Santos.

 

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