About

To talk about how HAJA started without remembering how its founders, Nádia Barbazza and Pedro Rocha Junior, met is impossible. A story of love for others, in its many senses, and of inspiration that began more than twenty years ago.

Nadia, Swiss, descendant of Italians, had always carried within her the strong feeling that she wanted to make a difference in the world and leave a legacy. So, in her early twenties, she started her public health career in Switzerland, but felt that something was missing for she wanted to help people who really needed her. That is why she joined a large NGO to work with what she loves, public health, and to invest in the empowerment of people in socially vulnerable situations.

Meanwhile Pedro, a “carioca da gema”, who was working on the stock exchange, faced a moment of spiritual awakening and consequently of his humanity. He realized, then, that something had to change for his life to have meaning. And he had the strong feeling that this would happen through the help of people, specifically those in Africa.

From the same NGO as Nádia's, Pedro learned of a demand for work in Morro do Borel, considered the most violent “hill” in all of Latin America at that time. Although he was the only one who accepted the invitation and was very afraid of blood, he began his first day applying bandages and when he was faced with various precarious situations, he realized that his place would not be in any other continent, but in his hometown, and that nothing would keep him from fulfilling his mission.

Nádia, then, was asked to stay for a month working in Brazil (guess what?) with bandages at Morro do Borel. Without knowing the team or the Portuguese language, Nádia discovered another world, an extremely violent world, with the total absence of public power and joined Pedro on this journey. The first time he saw Nádia and was enchanted by her sensitivity and grace is still in his memory.

However, Nadia returned to Switzerland shaken by all the experience and with ambiguous feelings, because she did not want to go back to Brazil anymore to witness that situation of extreme vulnerability and poverty, but at the same time she knew that if she really wanted to make a difference, that was exactly where she had to be. And of course, in addition to this there was Pedro, who was still on the hill and who would later became known as Pedro do Borel, because of his incredible ease of bonding and mobilizing people for action.

Nádia found courage and decided to return to Brazil to spend some more time in the construction and coordination of the first Morro do Borel ambulatory with Pedro. But what at first would be just another place of temporary work became the place where Nádia and Pedro made bonds. Morro became their home and family, and it was there that they formed their lives together, creating a home not only for themselves but also for many children who were also part of their family.

Among the many experiences with work in other countries and leadership positions within the NGO, one in particular caused a major change in the couple's perception. In 2007, they were invited to Cairo, Egypt, to start working from scratch with abandoned and homeless children. Among many other problems involved in this situation, there was the fact that the country did not allow the adoption of children, and still does not.

It was in Cairo that they developed their working methodology. They understood there that the main tool of their work would not only be the community development but the creation of methods for removing the various types of constraints which limit the alternatives and opportunities of people in vulnerable situation. From this experience, Nádia and Pedro came to believe that they would need to help individuals to develop with the goal that someday the NGO would no longer be necessary, for those same individuals, those same children would be the protagonists of their own transformation.

When they returned to Brazil, modified by this experience, they understood that they needed to start a new phase in their lives, in which they could practice their methodology. Under this new mindset, after she had given a talk, Nádia went to Jardim Gramacho, and met the community of Quatro Rodas. With no pretensions or plans, she found herself under a tree where she began talking to two pregnant girls. With her welcoming way and the background of more than twenty years in public health, Nádia strongly bonded with the two girls and then with the community where they lived. That was when she told Pedro that they had found the place they were looking for.

Thus, close to the age of fifty, but with the certainty that it is possible to make a difference in people's lives through the methodology they had created, they broke with the past to start over, giving rise to a new stage in their lives: the creation of our dear HAJA.
 

Our Mission

We collaborate to eradicate extreme poverty and injustices committed against children and their families in Rio de Janeiro and Egypt, in order to reach other locations around the world.

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Our Vision

We aim to be an NGO globally recognized for the positive social impact generated by our projects through community-centered child development.

Our Mission

We collaborate to eradicate extreme poverty and injustices committed against children and their families in Rio de Janeiro and Egypt, in order to reach other locations around the world.

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"Charity is the only treasure that increases by dividing it."

Cesare Cantú

 

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