Christmas fun for girls and boys!

By Rob Barnett


It’s Christmas party season at ReVive! Little over a week after the fabulous festa for the girls, staff and volunteers, on Saturday morning there was a party for the ReVive girls plus the boys and staff from My Father’s House.


This time the venue was the ReVive House, which had been thoroughly cleaned the previous day and was looking festive thanks to a beautifully-adorned tree and many decorations hanging from the ceiling.


The arrival of the food (pictured above) and drinks, notably an enormous chocolate cake, fully set the scene for a Christmas extravaganza.


The boys and staff from My Father’s House, a similar project to ReVive, also in Olinda, arrived to get the party started. Initial, understandable, stand-offishness between most of the girls and boys (think of a school disco) was ended by the giving of presents.


Each youngster was presented with a gift, which they mainly unwrapped with relish. One girl, who had perhaps not been given many presents before, needed help opening her’s: make-up, a necklace and earrings. Her joyful expression once it was unwrapped was priceless!


The food, including the delicious cake, and drink were shared around as many of the boys and girls played with their new gifts.


Then it was time for more fun! Roz, my wife, and I played a few games, using equipment from the Base Pack provided by The Kings Foundation, that the girls had previously enjoyed.


We started with Monkey Football where everyone initially stands in a circle with legs apart. The object of the game is to roll a football between someone else’s legs while they try to stop this by using their hands to block the ball. The boys quickly caught on to this and a competitive but good-natured game ensued.


Next it was time for Benchball, a game similar to netball. But rather than trying to throw the ball into a high net, one member of each team stands on a chair (or bench if you have one) and tries to catch the ball, thus gaining their team a point.


Each team had a mix of girls and boys, with a few staff members and volunteers also getting involved. Having previously played this game with the girls in late afternoons, it was hot and sweaty in the midday sun, so we kept the game short and sweet.


We finished the games with some less intensive Frisbee activities, finally trying to throw Frisbees into a hoop around 10 metres (33 feet) away. This kept some of the youngsters occupied until, sadly, it was time for the boys to go amid warm farewells.


Some of the My Father’s House staff were able to stay a bit longer before a brilliant party drew to a close. More heartfelt farewells were shared and invitations were extended to visit the boy’s house another day.

Ho, ho, ho! What a night!

By Rob Barnett


ReVive’s Christmas party was a wonderful treat for the girls, paid staff and volunteers with laughter, fun and crepes aplenty. Thank you to everyone who made it possible, particularly through financial contributions, and to those who organised it.


As relatively new volunteers, Roz and I were touched to be involved in a night celebrating the whole of 2015. We were struck by how obviously ReVive is a big family, even if it’s rare for all the family to be together (due to most of the staff working shifts). We felt it was fitting that the staff and long-term volunteers were spoiled just as much the girls during the evening.


From the moment we arrived at the function area in the apartment block where Andy and Rose Roberts live, there was a lively and occasionally raucous atmosphere (even though no one was drinking alcohol). The area was nicely decorated, including a Christmas tree with many presents under and next to it. Everyone was dressed to impress, the girls having spent much of the day making themselves beautiful.


Throughout the evening a hired chef cooked delicious crepes to order, with a variety of savoury and sweet fillings, while we were excellently looked after by a friendly catering team.


The atmosphere stepped up a notch when it was time for the staff and volunteers to give their Secret Santa gifts. This involved taking it in turns to stand in front of everyone and offer a few, mostly humorous, clues to who the recipient was. Each recipient then did the same for the next person, mostly provoking uproarious laughter! Some adjectives about people that Roz and I had recently learnt at Portuguese language school came in handy.


Next we watched two short videos, one a spoof of Mark Ronson’s hit pop song ‘Uptown funk’ featuring most of those present, the other a look back at ReVive’s year month by month. The former was hilarious, the latter moving and heartening.


Then it was time for the presents around the tree to be distributed, with something for every guest. The girls’ faces lit up when they each received their gifts.


To keep everyone’s attention, a game of Bingo followed (a good way for those learning Portuguese to practice numbers). Tension mounted as several people got close to winning, and it turned out there were a few prizes on offer.


All good things must come to an end, so the saying goes, and before everyone knew it, it was time to head home (after all, the next day was a school day for the girls and some volunteers). There were many happy embraces and farewells before people went their separate ways with smiling faces!

Showers, fans and oranges

By Rob Barnett


How is Brazil different to the UK? Showers, fans and oranges are just some of the many ways that my wife, Roz, and I have noticed in the first three weeks of our six months’ volunteering for ReVive International in Olinda. Here are some of the differences we have found, even if we are getting used to them.



Being Spring in Brazil we’ve barely experienced any of the showers that are all-too-common in the UK. However, we’ve been regularly refreshed by the variety that people wash under on both sides of the Atlantic. Showering in Brazil isn’t just about keeping clean; it’s about keeping cool. It doesn’t matter that most showers in Brazil don’t have a temperature control. Their cool water is a wonderful tonic to the heat, particularly before bedtime when it can be key to getting to sleep.



There are two temperatures in Olinda during Spring: hot and really hot! From 7am to 4pm the sun is extremely strong. We found out to our cost when having lunch under a parasol on a beach. Although we were in the shade throughout, we were burnt by the reflection of the sun on the water. Happily, once the sun goes down the temperature becomes pleasant, aided by the sea breeze, although information boards on the sea front still show figures of around 30 degrees Celsius. I’ve only just been brave enough to join the local joggers on the sea front in the late afternoon. A cool shower afterwards was essential.



In the time that we’ve been here I’ve not worn a jumper or trousers. I’ve not once felt remotely cold. The only time I’ve worn socks is to go walking, jogging or play football. The rest of the time sandals or flip-flops suffice.



There are plenty of football fans in both countries, but it’s the electric variety that we have warmed to most. Without one in our room at the ReVive house, we would struggle to sleep at night as the windows have to be shut to keep mosquitoes away. We are soon to move into a nearby flat with Becky, ReVive’s Volunteer Coordinator. Between us we have bought three fans for the flat.


Safety first

We feel safe here but it pays to be streetwise, so taking more money and valuables than necessary when out and about is a ‘no-no’. It means the lovely wallet my parents-in-law bought me for my birthday in September has been replaced by a money belt that I wear around my waist and under my clothes. Don’t worry Chrissie and Dave, I’m keeping the wallet safe for when Roz and I are back in the UK!


Pace of life

We certainly think it a positive that the pace of life in Brazil is slower than in the UK, with the possible exception of cars and the public buses that hurtle us to and from Portuguese school. Outside of vehicles, Brazilians rarely seem in a hurry and are surprisingly happy to queue. Perhaps more so than us, when we spent around 15 minutes in a ‘15 items or less’ supermarket queue of half-a-dozen people. It wouldn’t happen at home.



Not only do hasty motorists in Brazil regularly beep their horns, there are all sorts of other noises in public. Fireworks go off a lot, even in the day, and street vendors, many riding bicycles, announce themselves by blowing whistles as they go along the streets. And if you want to advertise your product, what better way than putting a large speaker on top of a vehicle and driving through the streets blasting out what you have to offer?



Those of a certain age will remember the department store C&A that closed in the UK around 15 years ago. Well C&A, with the same logo of old, still operates in Brazil. Indeed, Roz bought a pair of shorts from one of two branches we have so far seen.



More vibrant even than C&A’s logo are the colours of plants, buildings and many other things in Brazil. Nourished by the rich sunlight, many plants brighten often dirty streets. Buildings are painted brightly (the ReVive house is blue and mainly yellow), particularly the gorgeous colonial houses of Old Olinda.



Much Brazilian food is colourful too, and not always in the way you would expect. My favourite example is that you can buy oranges with green skin, although they are a familiar orange colour inside. I’ve been enjoying these, along with the much other flavoursome fruit.