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Published on Nov 3, 2009
Father Hans Stapel is co-founder and president of Fazenda da Esperança Farms of Hope. He has established more than 60 therapeutic communities in 10 countries to help people with drug and alcohol addictions rebuild their lives.
Stapel, a native of Germany, is a Franciscan priest and in 1979 became pastor of Our Lady of the Glory Church in Guaratinguetá, northeast of Sao Paulo. He established Fazenda da Esperança in 1983 to help addicts in Guaratinguetá, and the enterprise has grown to include operations in Argentina, Guatemala, Germany, Mexico, Mozambique, Paraguay, the Philippines, Russia and Uruguay.
Addicts live in houses of 14 persons for a year, supporting each other and guided by two recovering addicts. More than 10,000 people have participated in the program, and 80 percent have abstained from further drug use.
Pope Benedict XVI visited Fazenda da Esperança in May 2007 and gave his blessing to 2,000 current and former Fazenda residents who came from around the world to see him.