RECIFE, Brazil — Playing the violin in a children’s orchestra may have saved 7-year-old Daniel’s life. The youngster, orphaned after witnessing his mother’s murder in his slum neighborhood, found safety, comfort and future direction in the orchestra sponsored by the Child-Citizen Project.

Begun in 2000, the project responds to the urgent needs of young men in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Coque, Brazil. Appeals Judge Nildo Nery dos Santos, who was at that time president of the Pernambuco State Justice Tribunal, recognized the overwhelming need to motivate troubled young men and to help reduce the social inequities they faced.

Seven-year-old Daniel is an orphan who learned how to read music and play the violin through participating in the Church-sponsored Coque Boys’ Child-Citizen Orchestra in Brazil. © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved

Nery happened to share his concerns and hopes with Elder Claudio R. M. Costa, then the most senior leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the northern areas of Brazil. Elder Costa immediately offered Church humanitarian assistance to the project.

Though the project falls outside the normal scope for humanitarian help around the world, the Church is able to adapt and respond to specific individual and community needs.

“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.”

Originally, the program focused on sports. The Church donated uniforms, food and transportation.

Eventually, the program expanded to include academic and psychological assistance, regular meals and music lessons.

The Church recently donated all of the necessary instruments for the Coque Child-Citizen Orchestra. The members of the orchestra, ages 7 to 15, recently presented a concert in the Santa Isabel Theater, one of the oldest and most beautiful concert halls in Brazil. More than 100 young men participated in the program.

This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at