For most of us, Dolly Parton had it right with her classic song about being a slave to the alarm clock, Nine to Five. As the songstress says: “Working nine to five, what a way to earn a living, barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving.” By the time most people hit retirement age, they’re more than ready to give up the early mornings, rushed breakfasts and commutes to work in favour of a quieter life, pruning the roses, ambling round garden centres and looking after grandchildren.
Most people, that is. Not all.
Cally Magalhães left Milton Keynes for the favelas of São Paulo twenty years ago, working with vulnerable street kids, as well as offering psychodrama workshops and counselling sessions in the youth prisons. She’s always raised her own support and has a close relationship with the many people who give generously to her ministry, the Eagle Project.
Two of Cally’s supporters have completely disproved Dolly’s line about it being all taking and no giving. They’ve changed the way they live so that they can continue giving to and supporting the Eagle Project and other charitable causes.
“They reached retirement age and chose to carry on working, practicing radical and intentional generosity, so that they could keep on supporting us. This couple have supported me for nearly twenty years, coming out to visit us in São Paulo and encouraging and inspiring me all the way. I admire them hugely for their generosity, sacrifice and the way they steward their money.”
Rather than choosing to live an easier life, Cally’s supporters have decided to continue working and practicing sacrificial generosity. “They park a long way from the shops and walk, rather than paying for the convenience of expensive car parking nearer to their destination. They really watch their housekeeping bills and are careful with the way they eat. Along with another couple in my support network, they are my most financially generous supporters, giving me £200 a month, which is incredible. Knowing that they’ve chosen the difficult path rather than the easy way is the most wonderfully encouraging thing for me.”
As a full-time Christian worker living on support, Cally has experienced the doubts and worries which beset everyone who chooses to live a life of faith. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking, ‘I could do much more if only I had more money.’ I’ve learned to look at what I do have, not what I don’t. And what I do have is the most incredible and inspirational supporters. That same couple told me something which I have always carried with me. They said that if you keep on giving and don’t hold on to your money, you give God room to keep giving you more so that you’re able to bless others. I think that’s remarkable!”
This generous support is helping Cally and the project to deliver near-miraculous outcomes in São Paulo. The Eagle Project delivers at least 12 sessions of psychodrama per boy, resulting in 80% of the young people leaving prison and not re-offending. During their sessions, they role-play their victims, their families and friends, thus empathising and understanding the impact of their crimes. Cally and the team befriend and support them, with many of them going on to build brand new lives.
Cally doesn’t mince her words. “When the prison asked us whether we wanted to work with first-time offenders or multi re-offenders, naturally we chose the latter. Without intervention, they’d be in and out of the youth prison and either end up in adult prison or dead.”
None of this would be happening without Cally’s support network. Lives are being transformed by ordinary people living thousands of miles from the favelas, choosing to walk to the shops and count the pennies. Not just nine to five, but twenty four seven, radical generosity is changing the world of street kids and young offenders in São Paulo, one step at a time.
To find out more about the Eagle Project, visit: www.theeagleproject.co.uk