The second week of my job shadowing in SCMS, Santarem, Portugal, occurred from March 6th to 10th. The schedule focused on the observation of the activities undertaken by SCMS Youth Workers in “PRIMEIRO PASSO”. It is a boy hostel where about 18 children and youngsters aged between 6 and 16 live.

During my first day at the hostel it was very interesting to discover that all of the children had a home but they had left it and had decided to live in the hostel because of bad relationship with their parents.

As the youth workers in PRIMEIRO PASSO told us, the children meet their families during the weekend, for one or two days, and then they come back to the hostel because they prefer living there.

The children go to school in the morning and they come back in the afternoon. Afterwards, the youth workers help them to do their home works. Besides, the youth workers make a schedule of children’s activities on the basis of their attitudes and preferences: some of them like cooking, some other like playing football, etc. The reason of this differentiated schedule is the belief in the importance of non formal education as a mean to improve their approach to life. The youth workers strongly believe that if these children learn to do things they like, they will surely raise their self-esteem and face more easily the future.

My first day with the children wasn’t very good because they don’t understand English and I don’t speak Portuguese. Anyway they were really nice: they helped us in any possible way to understand them in a non formal perspective. We went to the hostel every day to help them to develop their works and activities. The children cooked for us some local food and we also taught them to prepare some of our dishes. At the end of the week we were able to understand better their point of view about life and to make a reflection about the best teaching methods to involve them in the learning activities.

I realize that the tool of non formal education is very useful to help children to live their lives in a better way.