The work “San José Obrero” [St. Joseph the Worker] welcomes children between 10 and 14 years of impoverished neighborhoods of the region of Pampulha. It carries out an important educational work with students of the sixth to ninth year of Elementary Education II. Education is the means that the sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus use to proclaim the Word and promote human-Christian formation, offering space for the development of children, and conditions to regain their citizenship and their self-esteem. This provides them with the necessary conditions to secure better opportunities and take a major step forward in their lives.
In line with school work it takes care of the integral formation of the person through extracurricular activities that integrate socio-educational activities. Encouraging the emancipation of youth and youth participation has been a characteristic of the educational project since the beginning of the work, and it has sought to perfect it in the almost 50 years of existence.
The work began when the sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus felt the need and sought to provide continuity of studies to children of workers in the residences of the Pampulha neighborhood, because in the area there was only one primary school, Basic Education I, 1st to 4th year. The sisters then had a farm in the space where the work is situated today, and a good experience in the education of adolescents, once they had been running the Immaculate Conception School in the same city of Belo Horizonte. The farm was used for activities on sociability among the students of the school. When they felt the need of the children who finished Elementary School I (in that primary time), without the possibility of continuing their studies, the Daughters of Jesus began Fundamental Education II (at that time “gymnasium”) giving it a quality of professional preparation, or better, work-oriented.
289 children and adolescents from 50 neighborhoods of the Pampulha region currently frequent the “Obra Social San José Obrero”. A large number of them, perhaps the majority, remain in the Work in the afternoon, full time. Sixth and seventh year students are offered socio-educational activities; and to the eighth and ninth year, projects specially developed for them. Integral education adds the subjects of formal school education to offices that work on environmental issues, corporeality, citizenship, healthy eating, and a project with various expressions of art such as music, theater, plastic arts, hand-loom spinning, embroidery, cutting and sewing. All this in order to offer conditions for initiation into the labor market and the search for other kinds of knowledge.
In Arts and Crafts, the Work is integrated with CEFET, which, in addition to preparing students for entrance tests, assists them in acquiring study habits, and enables them to have contact with adolescents and young people of a similar socioeconomic level and get to college. The idea is to open prospects for them and stimulate possibilities for improvement.