Regina Helena de Oliveira Pedroso

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1989


This profile was prepared when Regina Helena de Oliveira Pedroso was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
Regina is setting out to create a national effort to help build new, effective support for Brazil's many millions of poor, at risk children.
Her work builds out from the very successful model she developed in Sao Jose dos Campos, a city of 268,073 people in Sao Paulo state. Her program there now serves 2,000 children.
According to Regina, "The program has succeeded where others failed due to its comprehensive approach -- it deals with children in a consistent and reliable way. It provides education, work training, meals, medical services, and, above all, the opportunity of working in meaningful jobs."
She has been able to open the door to jobs for these youngsters in a number of ways. Building on an earlier success where she created a series of new enterprises for the city's unemployed, she's continued creating new jobs directly. However, to be able to reach many more children with better opportunities and to build more of a private base for her work, she's shifted her focus to a quite unusual, for Brazil, series of agreements with private businesses.
Today her organization, the "Fundacao de Atendimento a Crianca e an Adolescente Professor Helio de Souza" (FUNDHAS), has agreements with 47 companies that provide paid training. (The money is essential to keep children in school and training programs since they have to contribute to their families' livelihood.) These socially responsible companies also provide adult role models many times absent from those children's lives, in the form of "big brother" type supervisors. She's also involving other elements of the community.
The success of the education/training program spurred new activities such as UCRAMI, which deals with child abuse cases and provides among other things hot line services; UNAJAM, which provides assistance to children with family and/or legal problems, and UNIDEM, which runs two "houses" for street children, one catering specifically to drug addicts.
Regina created FUNDHAS as a private organization. This allows her to reach out beyond Sao Jose dos Campos. It also protects her work from the disruptions that are otherwise the almost inevitable consequence of changes of party and leadership in the municipality. This shift has made her work to engage others in the community even more important.
However necessary being independent is for the current stage of Regina's own work, one of her core objectives is to strengthen the municipalities' initiative, capacity, and sense of responsibility regarding their children. She's set about organizing local children's alliances in cities and towns all across the country involving both municipal officers and private groups who care. She helps disseminate good ideas and encouragement. She encourages the sort of public/private collaboration she's found so useful. She is, in effect, encouraging the emergence of local children's lobbies community by community.
Regina has also started to champion legislation designed to help children. One of her early (successful) efforts has given them more equal rights as workers. She is also pushing to give the municipalities more local revenue and therefore ability to expand -- a fundamental shift in Brazil's heavily centralized fiscal system.
Having developed a model, and still very much engaged with this front line work, she's now setting out to stimulate and help 4,000 other communities build analogous capacity and drive to experiment and act.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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