Lessons from the past for the future: WWII veteran inspires new generation in the Caleb Mission.

South America

At 99, World War II Veteran Volunteers at Caleb Mission

Service project mobilizes more than 8,000 volunteers in north-central Espírito Santo

Brazil | Rafael Brondani

In a room full of enthusiastic children, Claudinier Ribeiro da Silva, a 99-year-old World War II veteran, shares life lessons and knowledge. Participating in Caleb Mission, a volunteer initiative focused on education, social service, and community development, Silva offered much more than just traditional lessons; he shared experiences that shaped a century.

About Caleb Mission

In north-central Espírito Santo, Brazil, more than 8,000 young people are sacrificing their school vacations to take part in charitable actions. An initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the project encourages young people to dedicate time to helping communities in need, spreading messages of love and hope. The recent activities in north-central Espírito Santo began on Sabbath, January 13, 2024, and continued until January 29.

World War II

Silva, born in 1924, has witnessed some of the most significant events in modern history. During World War II, he lived through an experience that he says taught him about resilience, courage, and the importance of peace. Today, he brings these lessons to the students at the Christian Vacation School (ECF), where he has taught children in a poor community at the end point of Carapina, a neighborhood in Greater Vitória.

"My life has been a long journey, and now I can use what I've learned to help these young people," says Silva, with an affectionate smile. "It's more than teaching math or history; it's about teaching values and hope."

As well as lecturing, the ex-combatant worked actively in sorting donations that were distributed to people in situations of social vulnerability, as well as organizing the ECF and other activities.

Volunteering

The more than 8,000 young Caleb Mission volunteers in Espírito Santo were divided into around 200 teams of about 40 each.

The actions included health guidance through lectures, fairs and courses, community services such as donating blood, cleaning public spaces, renovating homes for needy people, and awareness campaigns.

Health professionals were also part of the teams, offering medical care. Silva is one of the most experienced volunteers, but his age doesn't dampen his enthusiasm.

Inspiring Lives

"He's an inspiration," says Juliana Loubaque, coordinator of the Caleb Mission in Carapina. "It's an honor to have Claudinier's support. A 99-year-old who is present whenever he can and is an example of discipline and attitude."

According to Loubaque, among the teachings of the veteran, Silva talked about how to reach the elderly using natural remedies, practicing physical activity, trusting in God, eating well, and drinking eight glasses of water daily, taking care of the body and mind. "As he himself says: He has already gone to war to defend his country, but today he is part of the Lord's army and is always ready to serve," she says with emotion.

Battle

As the day drew to a close, the children bid Silva farewell with hugs and smiles. Although his time as a combatant is behind him, his current battle is for education, health, and the future of these children. At 99, Silva not only teaches lessons from the past but also sows seeds of hope for the future.

"I want them to know that they can overcome anything," Silva says, looking at his young pupils, "that they can be the change they want to see in the world, just like I tried to be."

The original version of this story was posted on the South American Division Portuguese-language news site.

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