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The story of Fazenda da Esperança began in 1983 when a German Franciscan parish priest, Father Hans Staple, called a group of young men and women in his parish in Guaratinguetá, Sao Paulo, Brazil, to meet every morning after the mass and meditate on the message of the gospel of the day.
How it started
The story of Fazenda da Esperança began in 1983 when a German Franciscan parish priest, Father Hans Staple, called a group of young men and women in his parish in Guaratinguetá, Sao Paulo, Brazil, to meet every morning after the mass and meditate on the message of the gospel of the day. He asked them to think how they may apply the gospel's teachings in their daily lives.
Among those in the meditation group was Nelson, a boy of 18, who usually passed by a gathering place of drug addicts, on his way to work. He thought of the gospel that they read that day: "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me." A thought struck Nelson, "and these addicts? Aren't they also the least of Jesus' brothers?"
Starting a friendship with the drug addicts, Nelson met them every evening, just talking and listening. After several weeks of building friendship with them, one of them, Antonio, asked Nelson to help him fight his drug problem. "I want to stop but I don't know how to do it. Please help me." he said. Nelson suggested the only way he knew. He asked Antonio to join their meditation group with Fr. Hans.
At mass the next day, Antonio was there. He joined Nelson at the meditation after mass. It marked the start of Antonio's entry into a new life.
Impressed by the change over Antonio, his friends decided to give it a try themselves, hearing mass and attending the meditation on the gospel. They felt re-born.
As their numbers grew, Fr. Hans gave them a house where they could live together as a community, driven by a common purpose to live a new life.
Their resolve gave them the strength to live apart from their parents, to support themselves by doing odd jobs like cutting grass around the neighborhood. They pooled their money together, attracting more young men who needed help, until the house could no longer hold-the group.
From the house that Fr. Hans gave, the group moved to a farm donated by a generous man and the site is now considered the first Fazenda da Esperança or Farm of Hope. It became a showcase of the spirit of brotherhood, at the same time a haven for the drug-addicted, encouraging many who needed help, not only people from Brazil but others who came from other countries. In time, similar farms were donated throughout Brazil with volunteers offering to help. Each one expressed willingness to work and live the Fazenda way.
To answer the need for a center for girls, the Women's Chapter was set up in 1988 through the initiative of Luci Rosendo and Iraci Leyte.
Spread of Fazenda
When they saw the impressive growth of Fazenda in Brazil, other countries invited Fazenda to start similar communities in their place. In 1988 the first Fazenda outside Brazil was inaugurated in Germany, near Berlin. Others followed in Paraguay, Russia, Mexico and Guatemala, Mozambique…
At present, there are more than 60 Fazenda centers in Brazil and 10 other countries, with more than 2,000 boys and girls undergoing rehabilitation, with some 20,000 graduates worldwide.