Jardelio never knew what it meant to have a family. He was abandoned by his mother at a young age and spent much of his life living in shelters and orphanages. When Jardelio came to the City of Youth as a teenager, we could see that he was both a hard worker and a dreamer. Determined to provide him a bright future, the staff of Hope not only watched and prayed for his transformation, but they walked alongside him, supporting him as a caring mother encourages her little boy’s first steps.
After he graduated from the City of Youth with a great record and high expectations, we invited Jardelio to work at Hope Mountain. Living in a small town just outside of the mountain facility, Jardelio’s house became a target for robbery. Continuously discovering items missing from his home, Jardelio soon learned that a street child was breaking into his house and stealing small belongings. Without knowing the child’s identity, Jardelio decided to hide in his home, waiting to catch him red-handed. The little thief was caught… and that is where the story takes a “Hope Turn.” Instead of condemning the little boy and turning him in to the authorities, Jardelio made him a proposal — a proposal that would change the boy’s life forever.
Jardelio invited the boy to live at Hope Mountain. The invitation was accepted, and the boy lived on our campus the rest of his years as a minor, graduated, and now has a family and a successful career. You see, Jardelio had come to embody our mission: “to transform the lives of children at risk.”
One day, Jardelio received a FaceBook message from a graduate of Hope’s Girls Ranch in Campinas. Her name was Natalia. She had not forgotten about Jardelio, with whom she had grown up at the City of Youth. Natalia had always expressed a dream of one day joining our staff to help the other girls, and she was excited to learn that Jardelio was working for Hope Unlimited.
The two started a long-distance romance, managing to commute 800 miles to spend a few extended weekends together. They soon announced plans to get married. Wedded in the Hope chapel, Natalia moved to Vitoria where she and Jardelio went on to become house parents, and eventually to run Hope Mountain’s entire residential program. Later, Jardelio and Natalia moved back to Campinas to head up our residential program at the City of Youth main campus.
2012 brought more exciting news for the young couple: Natalia was pregnant! Soon after the birth of little Miguel, Jardelio took a close look at the birth certificate of his new son and saw the names of grandparents he had never met. He was overcome with sadness because he had no family to meet his beautiful son. Watching her husband, Natalia quickly encouraged the proud but grieving father to take his son to the City of Youth and introduce him to his Hope Family.
And so he did. Walking proud, along with Pastor Derli, Jardelio went from room to room showing off his precious boy to the staff, many of whom had watched Jardelio himself grow up; they were brought to tears at the sight of this newest chapter in “their boy’s” life.
Once again, we are reminded: Our mission is not only to cover the basic needs of children; it is not just to supply them with schooling and a vocational foundation. Our mission is to be family.