Yvone de Mello
Yvone grew up in a Rio de Janeiro that was stratified into four classes: upper, middle, lower, and poverty, with big gaps between these classes. Although Yvonne grew up in the middle class, she made a choice to work with the children of the poverty class which was divided into the favela/shanty town children and the street children. It was these children that became the prey of the drug lords, using them for their drug dealing purposes. This made Yvonne’s work extremely dangerous. Undaunted, Yvonne dedicated herself to teaching these children, sometimes with her daughter by her side. She taught the children the basics of life, including that they were valuable, that they had rights, and that they could learn. Two decades later, in a favela of 130,000, Yvonne has established Projeto URERE, a school where her personally trained teachers work with over 400 children between the ages of six and eighteen, with a goal of making these little persons with great big problems strong enough to survive their everyday life and build some hope for their future. Her curriculum and teaching methods have now been adopted in many Brazilian schools.