25 Sep Where it all Began:  A Story of Struggle and Hope

Brazil, a country commonly associated with beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and wealthy cities, has a less pleasant side to it that the government prefers to keep confidential. Over two decades ago, in the 1980’s, due to harsh economic circumstances and families breaking apart, millions of children and teens were flooded onto the streets. Life on the streets was filled with danger, gang violence, hunger, and crime. Many of these children, some as young as 10, resorted to lives of crime or prostitution as means of survival. Although they were given no options or opportunities to thrive, which drove them into illegal activities, the upper class viewed these children as parasites who had no future. Some even believed they needed to be permanently removed from society. The result of such cruel views is tragic, even improbable or unbelievable, but it was the reality at the time. Some wealthy individuals hired members of the federal police to assassinate these homeless children as a way of “cleansing” society. Thousands of adolescent children were murdered in their sleep and millions continued to have no other choice but to live on the streets. 

It wasn’t until 1991 when Phillip Smith, the son of presbyterian missionaries, decided to take action. Phillip had a passion for helping those in need, and he refused to stand to the side as children were murdered. This passion is what led him on a flight to Brazil, during which a good samaritan on the flight offered to donate an abandoned orphanage to his cause! Despite receiving such a special gift, Phillip still had many hardships ahead of him. He spoke no Portuguese, and he had almost no funds. Overcoming such adversity and establishing an organization that has been able to transform kids from a violent life on the street to successful college graduates was by no means an easy task. However, as the story continues, it will be revealed how Phillip’s passion and faith in God made such an ambitious hope into a reality, which is known as Hope Unlimited to this day.

Matthew Barber

guest contributor