BLIA Brazil, under the guidance of Venerable Master Hsing Yun, began the “Sons of Zu Lai” project in 2003. The purpose of the project was to alleviate some of the social, educational, and health problems that were devastating the rural communities of Sao Paulo. At the start of the project, 108 at-risk youths ranging from 7-18 years of age were provided care – ranging from food distribution to educational courses in English and computer training, from professional training in bakery, carpentry, gardening, and repair work, to establishing a neighborhood soccer club. Over the years, the program grew to incorporate over 400 youths and in 2007, Luminar Educational Center was built in the community to better serve the children.
The young adult on the left is Bruno, a soccer coach at Luminar Education Center. He was born and raised in Cotia. With little money, the prospect of college was slim. With the help of BLIA and Fo Guang Shan, he was awarded a scholarship for his dedication and work at the Luminar Education Center. The scholarship helps Bruno pay for all his college expenses so that he may one day better the lives of other children, by becoming a teacher.
The youth on the right is Douglas, an ordinary 12-year old of Cotia. His family background is pretty typical of those in rural communities – he has 27 brothers and sisters, many of whom he has never met.
At the age of 3, his father was murdered during a conflict with his drug dealer. At the age of 11,his mother was arrested for drug trafficking. The education center has taught Douglas moral correctness and ways to cope with his personal tragedies – as such, he has handled these misfortunes well. On his soccer team at the Luminar Education Center, he has shown excellent leadership. Furthermore, as the only man in his family, he has assumed responsibility for his two younger sisters that live with him. The education center has helped him mature and has given him a second chance for a better life.