The children of St John’s Catholic Primary School in Chorlton, Manchester exceeded all expectations by raising £1,750 for the Living & Learning Programme (L&L) in Rio de Janeiro.
Guided by their teachers, Mrs Frances Taylor and Miss Clare Seccombe, the children sang, danced, and through role play, demonstrated to Anne Wilson from CAFOD Salford and Joe Howson from Volunteer in Brazil how they had raised such a fantastic amount of money.
Mrs Taylor and Miss Seccombe have first hand experienced of the L&L programme and it is through their energy, enthusiasm and dedication that the children where able to channel all their creative energies into supporting the children of Rio. Two fantastic assemblies, delivered in Rio like temperatures, were a joy to behold.
I have just enjoyed this upbeat video from the children of the Living and Learning project. All thanks to Tom, UK volunteer and musician, who lives in the local favela and spends time with the children.
Of course, you don’t have to be a musician to be a volunteer! You just have to feel that you want to get involved in sharing your abilities and time with others.
Providing a helping hand and a quiet space in which to do homework is a simple but very effective way in which volunteers like Gabriel, working in the Living & Learning project in Rio, can support the youngsters.
The project provides a safe ‘after school’ place for children from the neighbouring favelas. Apart from help with homework and English the children receive a meal and the opportunity to join in with a range of sporting and cultural activities.
For children suffering from their experiences of crime and violence, there is help from Beth, the director of the project and a trained counsellor.
It is wonderful to hear that Thais, a former student of the Living and Learning Project has now returned as a teaching assistant (monitor). She was at the project when our very first volunteer Tom Ingam was in post in 2006. Having completed her formal education she is returning to the project to support other young people in their learning journeys.
Thais is to Tom’s left in the first picture and on the far right in the second.
We’re two weeks in to To Ligado’s new year and things are really starting to come together. We had a slightly bumpy start, partly due to Carnival and partly due to big changes in state school timetabling. Traditionally school kids have only gone to school in the morning or the afternoon, but the government are rolling out new full day schedules. This is obviously great news for the kids as they’ll have more taught hours and there won’t be this ‘dead time’ in the morning or afternoon where their parents are working but they’re not in school. What this means for the project is that it has lost some of its older kids as they’ve been put on this full day timetable.
Some how when one thinks of Brazil hockey doesn’t come readily to mind. But…. young people at the project are learning how to dribble with sticks and a hard ball rather than with their feet and a bag of wind!
This is what a young person at the project thinks of hockey:
Acho as aulas de Hoquei bastante interessantes, por que é um esporte diferente e o único esporte até agora que eu me interessei! (I think Hockey is really interesting; it is a sport that is very different and the only one until now that I’ve taken an interest in!) Telma
“So, what do you think about the UPP?”
The two women opposite me leaned back and sighed. “Gabriel, Gabriel, Gabriel…you want to know what we think about the UPP?”
They looked up at the ceiling and then at each other. I couldn’t make out anything from their expression. Right at that moment, I had no idea what they might say, good or bad. Which was surprising, given how extensive the media coverage has been of the UPP’s role in ‘pacifying’ Rio de Janeiro’s many favelas, both globally and within Brazil.
“You know, I had a lot of hope when I first heard the UPP were coming to my community.” said Rita finally. “That they would get rid of the drug traffickers for good, that we would have reliable running water, electricity, justice and that the police would treat us with respect. That things would change.”
What does it mean for the UPP to come to a community? The formula sounds simple – set a time and date for a full-scale entry into a favela by Rio’s military police, BOPE (pronounced boh-pee). Make it public so that the drug traffickers won’t stick around to put up a fight. Build a police station within the favela. Then staff it with specially trained officers who will work solely within these communities. The police division that runs these embedded stations is the UPP – the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora. Four years after its creation, they now have a presence in 28 favelas in Rio. Most of the Brazilians I’ve talked to who live outside the favelas, and much of the mainstream media, cautiously or wholly embrace what the UPP are doing.
The thing they all point to is the big drop in the kind of full-scale gunfights between heavily armed traffickers and police that once gave Rio its reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Certainly when I first came here five years ago, the sound of gunfire was relatively common. This time around, I don’t think I’ve heard a single gunshot in 7 weeks. So – from what I can hear from the safety of where I live, and from what I read several stages removed on the BBC and in Brazilian papers – the UPP have made a difference. But I had no idea what the people they were sent in to help actually thought.
I tried a more direct question. “So what has the UPP changed for you?” “A UPP não mudou nada.”Ed. The UPP haven’t changed nothing. “Nothing?” I said. “Na-da.”
What followed was about an hour of Rita and Maria explaining to me why they felt so at odds with the public perception of the UPP. How the drug traffickers were still there, working from the ‘Boca’ (The Mouth) where they’ve always sold their drugs in the community of Falete. How they were still present in much of favela life, from controlling the lucrative gas cannister trade, to resolving domestic disputes. How the community was caught between the law of the traffickers and the rule of the police. Maria and Rita illustrated all this with their own stories. Continue reading →
Closing after another year, the project had its Christmas party.The meal was delicious, like only Claudia knows how to prepare. No lack of rabanadas, singing, exchanging gifts, hugs and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and the coming year be filled with much peace, love, conquests, and of course, lots of fun.
To all those who somehow participated in the project this year, either as a teacher, monitor, volunteer or donor, our thanks and wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Without you, the project would not be reality it is today!
Wondering what has put the smile on these young faces. Look no further than centre back of the image to see, Mariana Bonifatti, a visiting teacher of plastic arts and music. But now over to the youngsters who tell it best.
I wanted to learn guitar since childhood and so came this opportunity to learn. I pay close attention in class. She has taught to play Bella Luna and Poeira and Ivete Sangalo. Thelma
The Mariana came here just to rejoice, because here there was the guitars, but had no teacher . So we’re having guitar lessons. In addition, she teaches art. She is preparing us so that we can perform the play “Romeo and Juliet” of Ruth Rocha. We made wings, scenery and clothing. Djair
The art class is really cool, the teacher is very entertaining. She is not from here, she is Argentine, but she is in Rio for 4 years. Estrella
The teacher Mariana teaches to do many cool things. But one day she had taught me to do a very interesting thing, she taught me how to make a parrot, but I could not do. Then there was one day that I could make it and I was very happy! Marcos
Amazing how things work out…its not very long since Beth was lamenting the lack of a musician and scratching her head for a solution, then along comes Mariana, to share her love and skills. This phenomena we often call co-incidence makes one wonder.