This profile was prepared when Auro Lescher was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Auro uses a combination of creative activities, education, and relationship-building to restore street children’s confidence in themselves and their futures. Working with a team of carefully trained “therapeutic educators,” he helps the children to develop new and strengthened affective relationships, rekindling their “desire to desire” and filling the emotional voids once occupied by drugs and street violence. The counselors—recruited from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels—are responsible for running an array of activities, including graffiti workshops and other programs designed to help the children develop employable skills. Launched in 2000, Project Quixote supports children from the moment they are first encountered on the streets to the point at which they can reunite with their families or re-enter mainstream society. The Project maintains a broad support network that includes clinical and social services and provides direct outreach to the child’s family and community to prevent him/her from returning to the street. Thanks to a variety of partnerships and a commitment to collaborating with other leaders in the field, Auro has trained 2,500 people to understand and adopt the program’s methodology, and has impacted the lives of nearly 10,000 people, including children, adolescents, and their families. Auro is working to expand Project Quixote into five other states in Brazil from its beginnings in Sao Paulo.