Roberto dos Santos
This profile was prepared when Roberto dos Santos was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1987.
The New Idea
Because so many Brazilians, poor and rich, fear theft and violence, these millions of poor street children face widespread hostility, even violence -- from adults, storekeepers, the police, and from one another. With 50 percent of those who start school failing the first grade, these children have few other options.Over the last six years, Roberto has developed a variety of ways to help street children effectively. He has done so while working in two areas of Rio de Janeiro with the greatest density of street children: one is an area where children still linked to their slum families work; the other is an area populated by prostitutes, other "marginals," and groups of children entirely on their own. Increasingly, others are being drawn into Roberto's work and are launching similar interventions in other areas.