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TheWalk
 
On July 19 a team from Meninadança set off from the Pink House in Medina, northwards along the BR-116 towards Cândido Sales.

Our aim was to make a symbolic gesture, a way of showing that we were now taking the work started in Medina to a new town, 100km further up this notorious stretch of motorway.

While Matt and Warlei took on the challenge of walking the 100km on foot on the edge of the BR-116, a 'blitz team' of 20 young people stopped at every truck park, petrol station and community along the way, encouraging others to take their own stand against child prostitution.

But we had no idea when we left Medina that day just how much of an impact would be made during the next four days.

By the time we had finished, vitually every resident of every town, village and hamlet through which the motorway passes along those 100km had been reached in one way or another.

Thousands of trucks, as well as cars, motorbikes, buses and even police cars had bumper stickers afixed declaring 'I AM AGAINST' child sexual exploitation, while countless of shops, roadside hotels and homes also carried the message, with stickers and fridge magnets.

Every conversation was fruitful, whether to hear about hidden cases of child sexual exploitation that locals had been afraid to report, or to help ordinary people begin to rethink their attitudes and actions.

And on every one of the 100 kilometres along the way, a bright pink ribbon is now tied, along with the name of the person who is sponsoring that km, making a bold statement to the thousands of vehicles who drive along the BR-116 every day.

Our team of volunteers spent hours at truck stops, some of which are well-known as child prostitution points, speaking with truckers, bar owners and others. In every stop they would perform a powerful drama set to music, alerting spectators to the consequences of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Where they came across homes and small communities they would set off up the dirt roads, knocking on doors and making sure nobody went without hearing our message.

Along with the stickers and fridge magnets, everyone received a card speaking frankly about the epidemic of child sexual exploitation in their midst, and giving them three easy steps to report the crime.

The team would go ahead of Matt and Warlei, who were walking the BR-116 on foot, and often truck drivers who had afixed a sticker would sound their horns as they drove past them, showing that they too were 'against'.

By the time Matt and Warlei arrived in the communities the team had 'blitzed', everybody was talking about the campaign, and our stickers could be seen everywhere.

On Day 4, Warlei and Matt finally arrived in Cândido Sales, where many people had already heard of the walk and had been following us on Facebook.

That night, an event in the town's packed main square, with music and dance, marked the day Meninadança finally arrived in Cândido Sales. By the end of the event, the crowd were even chanting 'I am against!' to show that they would not stay silent any more knowing that young lives in the town were being destroyed.

The following morning, we held our inauguration event at our new Pink House, where girls and their families were invited to get to know the house, hear more about why were were there, and eat of our special Meninadança cake!

Thank you to all of you who supported us, prayed for us and have sponsored one of the kilometres between Medina and Cândido Sales... you have helped protect children in some of the Brazil's most remote and forgotten places, and given a voice to young girls in urgent need. We believe this is just the start of a new future for communities along the BR-116!