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Housing is in style

May 8, 2009




Students walk the runway in last year’s Fashion for Humanity event.

SAO PAULO, Brazil—
Students from the American School of Sao Paulo (Graded School) will raise funds for Habitat for Humanity Brazil on Saturday, May 16, in a fashion show entitled “Fashion for Humanity.” The event does not feature professional models—the students themselves develop the show and walk the runway.

The money raised by the Graded School students will fund the construction of three homes and a school in Varjada, in the Pernambuco state of northeast Brazil. As the houses will not break ground until January of 2010, the students will continue to accept donations even after the event, until construction begins on the homes.

The idea for Fashion for Humanity originated in the Graded School schoolyard three years ago, when 40 students decided to volunteer in the construction of homes with Habitat for Humanity. Last year’s event successfully raised enough to build three Habitat houses. The students then covered their own travel expenses to Varjada, where they helped to build the homes that their donations had funded.

This year’s show will take place at 7:00pm in the Iguatemi center, renowned for being one of the most luxurious shopping malls in Brazil. The students expect the attendance of more than 400 parents, students and friends of the Graded School, equally distinguished as one of the most prestigious international high schools in Sao Paulo. Tickets will run approximately US$28 for students, and US$56 for the general public.

The Graded School students are still accepting donations for the logistical expenses of this year’s event. Several event sponsors have provided the students with materials, such as the runway, lights, sound and production, at a significantly discounted price.




The students not only raise funds for the Varjada homes, but also help to build them.

“The hope is to cover all of the logistical expenses through businesses that want to donate. This way, every ‘centavo’ of every ticket sold will go directly towards Habitat for Humanity Brazil, and will help the Graded School students to continue building homes,” explains Stephanie Chao, one of the Graded School students in charge of raising funds for the event.

Another student, Andrew Tasso, talks about an additional fundraising initiative—selling bricks at the show. “The “bricks” are made of paper, and represent the construction of houses, cisterns and a school,” explains Andrew. “Donors can either write their name, or donate in honor of a parent or loved one.”

The effort of these students in their fight for a humanitarian cause is an example of one of the many ways in which we can all take part in the struggle for adequate housing. The experience that the Graded School students have shared with Habitat for Humanity also serves as an example worthy of duplicating across Brazil and throughout the region.

To learn more about the initiatives of Graded School students, visit

About Habitat for Humanity Brazil
Habitat for Humanity Brazil is a non-governmental, non-profit organization recognized by the Brazilian government as a national public service provider. Since 1992, Habitat Brazil has been helping to develop communities through affordable housing construction, rehabilitation and improvement, with priority given to families in situations of social vulnerability. In addition to complete houses and social infrastructures (health centers, community buildings, etc.), Habitat Brazil also facilitates initiatives such as microfinancing for housing, financial education and advocacy. Habitat for Humanity Brazil received the CAIXA Best Practices award in 2007/2008, for its work in the Varjada community (Passira/Recife/Pernambuco). This same Project was also recognized by UN-Habitat as an international example of human rights and housing. For more information, visit

Photos courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Brazil.