The neighborhood of Betânia, on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte where we have been living and working since 1985, has undergone an important social transformation during the recent years, which has not contributed to reducing the gap and inequalities between the rich and poor. To support the latter, we renew our commitment every day through the promotion of social actions to respond to the needs of the territory.  We pay particular attention to the little ones, children and teenagers, boys and girls, to accompany their development and growth, and help them face the continuous challenges coming from the society they live in with courage, hope and a spirit of solidarity.  

To better carry out our community service, in compliance with the Brazilian law, we created a civil association in 2017 which is affiliated with a community called Ação Social Villaregia (ASV – Social Action Villaregia), which gives continuity to the activities which have been promoted for years by the Community, thus expanding the scope of human promotion.

Several projects are currently active

Centro de Acolhida Betânia: “whoever welcomes only one child like this, welcomes me!” (Mt 18:5) 

Centro de Acolhida Betânia is one of the first social programs launched in Belo Horizonte in 1987. The center welcomes, during two shifts – morning and afternoon, over 200 children and adolescents ages 5 to 16. These are minors who live in particularly socio-economic disadvantaged and precarious conditions and who, without a safe place ready to welcome them every day, would have no other alternatives than staying home alone neglected by the parents usually engaged in informal makeshift work or exposed to the different risks that many of their peers face daily on the Brazilian streets. 

The center offers different kinds of basic social care services in support of these childhood and adolescence, enhancing education, inclusion, social cohesion and the integral development they so desperately need, including: 

  • recreational, educational and sport activities, including art, reading, informatics, citizenship education, to satisfy the different interests and stimulate children’s intellectual and psycho-physical development
  • at least one balanced meal per day (lunch and snack) to ensure the minimum supply of nutrients.  For some of the children who attend the Center, this is the only one meal they receive during the day.
  • qualified psycho-social support, to provide the adequate tools to deal with the difficulties faced in their family’s conditions
  • trips and activities to theaters, museums, parks, cinemas, to stimulate and broaden their horizons
  • accompaniment of parents and families, since, for the well-being of children, it is necessary to be close also to those who have the primary duty of taking care of them.


In over 30 years and service Centro de Acolhida Betânia has welcomed more than 6,000 boys and girls, accompanying them in their growth, supporting and strengthening family ties and fostering friendship among peers. 

Beside being a safe place to stay, the center is a welcoming embrace, capable of encouraging – and sometimes changing – the future of many children! 

Young Symphony Orchestra of Betânia: Making music an instrument for meeting and growing up

The Betânia Symphony Orchestra is another initiative promoted by the Community in favor of children and adolescents who live in the outskirts of Belo Horizonte. It is an radically new project in the area, which has the dream of teaching classical music to children and young people who live in the neighborhood of Betânia, promoting and facilitating their access to this form of art, often very far from poor, disadvantaged and contradictory contexts such as the local one. 

Founded in 2012, the orchestra offers to children aged 8-18 the opportunity to: 

  • learn the art of music by learning to play string instruments such as violin, viola, cello and double bass;
  • become protagonists of their own life.  The young musicians of the orchestra are often involved in opportunities for human encounters and training in public events and concerts which help them feel part of a group and increase their self-confidence.
  • broaden their horizons, encourage their personal growth and, sometimes, their career aspirations.  The musical training opportunity offered by the orchestra is of such a high caliber that some students have received high-level musical education proposals and even work placement.

In almost 11 years of activity, the orchestra has so far trained and involved almost 400 young musicians who, through classical music and the enhancement of culture, have developed an approach of greater attention, sensitivity and solidarity to life and to the world around them.

The Group For The Elderly "Growing up in life": you are never too old to receive care and attention

In 2017, a new need knocked on the door of our community: the need to take care of the elderly. In an ever-changing society like that of Brazil, the number of elderly people who spend most of their time alone at home, unattended, with family members busy elsewhere for work, is unfortunately increasing. For this reason, beside the actions for supporting childhood and adolescence, we promote recreational and training activities for another delicate age group: the elderly. The main goal is to alleviate the loneliness and silent suffering which affect many fathers, mothers and grandparents who are alone at home for most of the day.  

The group “Growing up in life” has become a fixed appointment for more than 60 elderly people who, day after day, re-discover the pleasure to stay together and meet, to learn new things in a rapidly changing world. This daily care service, which involves elderly people but also their families and their relationships, is rich of various types of initiatives:  

  • recreational activities such as music and dance workshops, embroidery and singing courses, checkers and chess games, which are offered several times per week;
  • group therapies and physiotherapy;
  • simple daily group meetings, to build and strengthen friendships and relationships, chat, and feel less alone;
  • thematic meetings on health and well-being, rights and citizenship;
  • intergenerational moments with children and adolescents attending the activities at Centro de Acolhida Betânia, as well as with young people involved in other community activities

Other Social Activities

Since the start of the COVID-19 epidemiological emergency, the community has re-organized its activities to provide a timely response to various needs. Thanks to the local campaign Our Solidarity Is Not Sick and the collaboration with local partners – including the Brazilian Red Cross – packages of food, personal hygiene products and cleaning material were collected and distributed to the public. Some mothers whose children used to attend the activities at Centro de Acolhida Betânia have also made and packaged hand-made masks to be distributed to the most needy families. 

In January 2020, the city of Belo Horizonte was hit by a violent storm which caused landslides and flooding in the most peripheral areas of the city, including the Betânia neighborhood where the community is located. With the help of many volunteers we immediately organized to offer logistical and operational support to the local population in need, providing basic necessities and spiritual support. The missionary center became an “operational base” for the local Civil Protection Service. 


Tel: 0055/31/33831545 – e-mail:  

Centro de Acolhida Betânia
Cipriano de Carvalho, 574 Cinquentenário
30570-020, BH – MG