Year Joined MKLM: 2017
City: São Paulo
Ministry: Centro de Integração do Migrante (Migrant Integration Center) and the communities of Haiti and Santo Expedito. Art, English and physical education, health promotion, religious education.
Ministry Area: Education
GOAL OF Ministry: To build a safe platform for the children’s growth in faith, self-expression, creativity, personal development and social skills. Health and fitness activities for immigrant population to help them de-stress and improve their quality of life.
Prevention. Education increases opportunities for marginalized communities. Exercise, in particular, can be a valuable tool to help people to de-stress, to get more out of life and, most importantly, to grow in love and harmony with themselves and others. It helps people to overcome negative emotions that otherwise lead to hate, anger, conflict and violence.
Roughly 30% of the population in São Paulo, Brazil, live under the poverty line and lack good basic education. This is particularly true for populations living on the margins of the city. Children living in favelas and immigrant communities on the margins of São Paulo also have little to no access to recreational activities or faith formation. Parents often work 12- to 18-hour shifts, and mothers rarely take breaks for themselves in between juggling work, kids, domestic chores etc.
Margarita teaches art, physical education, English and catechism to children. The children she teaches are immigrants (or children of immigrant parents), refugees and children from low-income families living on the margins of São Paulo who have little to no access to recreational activities or faith formation.
She also gives Zumba dance fitness classes to adult women at the Migrant Integration Center and Community Haiti. Most of the participants are migrants and periphery populations, and they often juggle 12- to 18-hour work shifts, family, school and domestic chores, leaving little to no time for their personal well-being. Zumba dance serves as an outlet to experience an array of health benefits such as stress relief, weight loss, strength and confidence building, mental breaks, better sleep, painless labor, etc. The self-care in these classes also builds up self-esteem and helps participants gain greater peace within and outside of themselves. It thus functions as a practice of violence prevention.
Margarita grew up in Tecate, Mexico, with the Maryknoll magazine in her home, and has always wanted to do mission work. She is thrilled to be serving in Brazil and is very interested in the languages and cultures of South America. As a teenager, Margarita often volunteered as a religious education teacher in her parish and also assisted with Vacation Bible School. She has led confirmation and youth group retreats.
Margarita has a bachelor’s degree in criminology and psychology from the University of New Mexico and has worked as a customer service representative and a kindergarten teacher’s assistant.