A Busload of Hope

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I like the way this story ends.

The buses at our City of Youth are absolutely indispensable. They ferry our staff from their homes to the campus, they pick up children from nearby favelas, and they carry our kids to the many off-campus activities—outings to museums and ballgames,  Saturday evening services at our graduate church, and monthly birthday celebrations at the mall.

Without them, all of the extras that make our programs work are gone.

A few months ago…  a devastating loss. We had sold both of our older buses, and with the help of a great donation from Princeton Alliance Church, bought a new one. But the new bus was at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Two rival gangs were warring in Campinas, and rioting broke out near the city center. Unfortunately, our bus was right there. Gang members forced their way onto the bus at gunpoint and then set fire to our new bus and several others belonging to the city.

A crippling loss.

Then… Enter Anderson Santos.

You may remember Anderson from a previous post or two. Just a few years after graduating from the City of Youth and our culinary program, Anderson had established himself as one of the top sushi chefs in Campinas—good enough that he was eventually lured away to a prestigious Japanese restaurant in São Paulo. A man of action, that Anderson.

He hears about the loss of the bus, knows of the impact on the program, and decides it’s time for graduates to step up. He organizes a FaceBook campaign and engages church leadership.

And our graduates respond.

Online donations. Young men and women we have not seen in years showing up at church to hand us a few dollars or write a check. Graduates getting really serious about giving back.

About $20,000 of seriousness.

Then a call from Princeton Alliance (the church that had paid for the now-burned bus) capping off the campaign with a gift of $10,000.

So now we have a new bus—actually, the best bus we have ever owned. Every time that bus pulls up with a load of kids for a Saturday night worship service, our graduates can say, “We did that.”

Giving back is a beautiful thing.

As the sign on the side says, it truly is the “Bus of Hope.”

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