Children and Youth Serve the Elderly in Brazil
By Melissa Zenteno, Church News and Events
Early in the morning of October 27, 2012, 16-year-old Bruno Estigarribia of the Parati Ward, located in Campo Grande, Brazil, headed over to the House of Abraham, a rest home for the elderly, to participate in a Helping Hands event organized by the Campo Grande and Campo Grande Monte Líbano Stakes.
Once there, Bruno joined more than 100 other children, youth, and adults from both stakes in providing service to the elderly.
The event, called “Little Helping Hands Who Help the Elderly,” was organized in an effort to teach children and youth the importance of service and to help entire families serve together.
“Our leaders wanted to help youth and children understand that when one does something for our fellowman, one can feel the Savior’s love,” said Márcio Patelli, Campo Grande Stake’s director of public affairs.
“I went because it was a Church activity, but I quickly realized that it would also be a unique opportunity to serve,” said Bruno.
At the nursing home, Bruno was able to converse and laugh with the residents. He said talking to them was his favorite part of the day. “I tried to transmit love and a little bit of joy,” he added. “I just kept thinking: ‘What would our Savior Jesus Christ do if He were here? What would He say?’”
In addition to sharing jokes and conversation, youth and children painted fingernails, styled hair, and put makeup on some of the elderly women. Some youth performed musical numbers. Many acted as scribes and wrote down the story of each patron—stories the stake plans on publishing in a book.
“It was all very special, but getting to know more about the elderly that day was moving,” said Guilherme Zisblat, a 14-year-old young man from the Coopharádio Ward.
Brother Patelli said that another goal of the stake was to plan an activity in which the whole family could participate. “It was special to see everyone involved—families working together to help others,” he added.
The Primary children who participated in the event handed out personal hygiene kits that they had assembled with their families a month before the event took place.
Dayane Marques of the Pioneiros Ward helped her two children put the kits together. She said, “When the children delivered the hygiene kits, it was very special to see the brightness in their eyes and to see the reaction of the elderly.”
In addition to handing out the kits, children sang for the elderly and gave them pictures they drew and letters they wrote.
One resident could not hold back tears. He was grateful for the kindness that everyone showed.
Mrs. Ediméa, director of the House of Abraham, expressed her gratitude. “I have never seen anything similar. I am so moved by everyone’s work and kindness,” she said. “This is from God.”
At the end of the activity, children and some of the older patrons planted a white Brazilian walnut sapling, which had been donated by the Parque Anhandui management, to commemorate the Helping Hands activity during a month that in Brazil is dedicated to children and the elderly.
“We know that these children and youth will love and respect others more—especially the elderly—because they were touched by the Spirit of the Lord,” said Brother Patelli.