The Mariapolis stands against this background as an oasis. The Fiore School and Welcome Centre’s after-school program have been in operation for 20 years. There, more than 300 children between the ages of four and twelve are able to find not only tutoring and academic instruction, but a family, a home that welcomes them each day.
Mariapolis Gloria, with its hundred citizens has more than 40 buildings that blend in well with the natural surroundings. The Mariapolis began in the early 1970s as a training centre for the growing community of the Focolare Movement in that region.
The area is part of Benevides, a small city with some 50,000 inhabitants. The poverty, which is quite visible, generates violence and opens the door to drug trafficking. The first main victims are always the adolescents.
The principal meeting of the youth in the Mariapoli Gloria has been held for 12 years in the period of the carnival, where the youth of at least nine different cities meet. Even if the event is promoted by the Catholic church, it has an ecumenical character, so people of other religions or with no religious belief can participate.