More than 100 young men, ages 7 to 15, recently performed as a part of the Coque Child-Citizen Orchestra, playing entirely on donated instruments from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the young men this concert is evidence of an opportunity extended to escape their poverty---and not just for one night. This concert is the fruition of the Child-Citizen Project created in 2000 in conjunction with Brazilian Appeals Judge Nildo Nery dos Santos, who recognized the "need to motivate troubled young men and to help reduce the social inequities they faced," a Church news release stated. Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Seventy, then the most senior leader of the Church in the northern areas of Brazil, heard of Judge Nery's initiative and wanted to support it. Elder Costa listened to the needs of the area and immediately offered humanitarian aid from the Church. "Dr. Nery has worked many years taking families who were living in the streets and giving more dignity to them," explained Elder Costa. "The Church was pleased to support his efforts." The project is not the usual call for humanitarian help, but the Church was able to adapt its resources to fit the individual and community needs Judge Nery diagnosed. The program has changed and adapted over the years, as it originally focused on sports. It has transformed from a program offering uniforms, food, and transportation to providing academic and psychological assistance, regular meals, and music lessons. The success of the Project is difficult to measure, but can be seen in the eyes of the children whose lives it has changed---children like Daniel, a 7-year-old orphan who witnessed his mother's murder in his impoverished neighborhood. The Child-Citizen Project has given him the safety, comfort, and future direction he needs to rise above his unfortunate circumstances and create a new life---one with a happy melody and hopeful song.
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