Back to School

team meetingCarnival is finally coming to a close here which means that Projecto To Ligado will opening its doors for yet another year. We’re expecting 36 kids to turn up on Monday afternoon and they’ve got an exciting year planned out for them. A lot of familiar faces in the staff team and some new ones. There are the rocks, Beth and Monica, who provide the stability and experience that is so vital for the project. Claudia is back to keep on cooking, although now in the brand new kitchen that Dave and Shelagh slaved away on before Christmas. Beth’s son Gabriel will continue to work as a Monitor helping the kids on their school work. He is joined by Thais, who recently completed her teacher training course. It’s fantastic to have her as a new member of the staff as she was one of the earlier graduates from the project after spending 5 years at To Ligado. I actually remember teaching her when I first came out here as an 18 year old! Other returners include Mariana (Art) and Marina (Reinforco). Hockey continues to grow; the President of the Rio de Janeiro Hockey Club came to our staff meeting last week and brought with him a very enthusiastic, newly qualified hockey teacher. Perhaps the most exciting development is that Tom will be moving from teaching Music one day a week, to four. The goal over the next few months is to put together a To Ligado band and, at some point, perform to audiences. I think this a fantastic project in so many ways and will help keep the kids energised for their other lessons as well. Continue reading

Share Button

Grass fire still causing hardship


Placid contented looking cows; a far cry from the nervous, semi-wild cows that first arrived at the farm.

Despite the fact that the  vegetation is recovering  from  the  grass fire last spring. The unseasonable drought means that Miquel is facing the additional cost of finding and renting new pastures, as well as the cost of transporting the cattle.

Miquel bought his stock with the help of a Volunteer in Brazil Micro Loan, unfortunately these extra costs will  probably reduce his expected  profit margin.

It is challenges such as these, to the agriculturally dependent communities of North East Brazil, that are the main push factors in the migration of people from the rural areas.  Other factors include, issues of land ownership, the difficulty in obtaining small development loans and the lack of effective, cohesive, federal and state policies.

Hopefully, the light being shone on  issue of land ownership (called  ‘Land Grabs‘)  by the joint charities  campaign is a step towards raising awareness and public protest for policy change at national and international levels.

Share Button

Morro Cabeca no Tempo…a visit to the bush

viewblogWhat a strange name! Morro Cabeca no Tempo translated means ‘The Head Hill in the Time’ and it is the name of a town in Southern Piaui, about 250km south of Cristino Castro.

Four years ago, a young man from this town decided to join the agricultural college near Cristino Castro, since then he has motivated other young people to study at the college and this year five students have enrolled.

The students have  invited the college  teachers to visit their families in and around Morro for a long time and last weekend we finally managed it. We saw for ourselves  just how complicated it is to travel to and from there.  Most of the  road is asphalted but it has  many holes and the  last 60 km is a dirt road.  We were lucky that it hadn’t rained in the last few days, otherwise it would have been  difficult to pass the numerous puddles.  Only big strong cars  could  get through.

church-blogSome of the students live in a small village called Gameleira about five km from the town of Morro. They showed us some lovely places such as the church built by an Irish priest called Padre Joao. It sits on the top of a hill and has magnificent views of the natural vegetation and  complex rock formations. It has great potential for tourism.

water-tankblogIt was very interesting to see the issues and the problems that the people face.  Gameleria is very  dependent on rainfall.  There isn’t any source of drinking water apart from rainfall.  Each house has a reservoir which collects the water. Fortunately  they have managed to bore wells in some places but the water is salty and unsuitable for drinking.  There aren’t any rivers or streams and the wells aren’t able to irrigate larger areas and of course cattle breeding and the production of milk and  dairy products depends on the quantity of rainfall. The first rain of the season fell only two weeks ago!

Despite the difficulties of daily life in the area, people are enjoying this festive time of year.  Last week they celebrated the feast of St Bras when locals and visitors took part in services, listened to music and visited stalls on the main street.

The agricultural college begins its new academic year at the end of February. I am looking  forward to seeing the students again and introducing them to the micro loan project. In my next post I will tell you more about the communities I visit.

Share Button

Making friends…the Brazilian way

churrasco  1After two weeks in Brazil, I can say I am a carnivore!  This is a big change in my life.  You should ask my parents who were trying to persuade me to eat meat for years.  If they had known  that it would be this  easy, they would have sent me to Brazil much earlier.

Brazilians love to be with people and churrasco (Brazilian barbecue) is the perfect way for socialising with family and friends.

A variety of beef, or other kind of meat, is grilled on an open fire and served with rice, beans, salad and farinha (or most probably just on its own).

My option was to eat it or to be hungry and I chose to give it a go.  I have already enjoyed a couple of them and I have to admit I love it.

Share Button

Its time you met Ronaldo…VinB hero and friend

Ronaldo having a breather.

Ronaldo having a breather.

Transport manager, town guide, problem solver and many other things. These are just a few of the roles that  Ronaldo has undertaken to smooth  the way for the folks of VinB.A couple of years ago when Keith, VinB trustee, was taken ill during a visit to Cristino; Ronaldo gave up his holiday time to take him to the hospital and oversee his care.

During last summer, he acted as courier to the ‘Going Global’ group and last week he met our latest volunteer, Martina, off the plane in Teresina and looked after her during her short stay; guiding her through the visa procedure, showing her the city and introducing her to his family.

Incidentally, Ronaldo is brother to Miquel who  trialled the first Micro Loan Initiative in Cristino.

All that Ronaldo does, is done with great warmth and generosity of spirit and  Brazil could have no better ambassador and VinB no better hero and friend!

Share Button

Feeling good in Cristino

Warm greetings from Cristino Castro ! And I mean it literally because it´s really hot here – and they said yesterday was the coolest day of the year!  I feel really good here. Martin and everybody else are looking after me very well.  I am trying to settle down and Martin makes sure that we’re visiting and meeting new people (many people actually!). I am very glad that he is here, it is much, much easier for me.        

After settling in, Learning Portuguese is my number one priority!

Will write again soon!

Martina[nggallery id=6]

Share Button

Partnership really work

Young people from Longridge High School near Preston organised a carnival to raise money for the Volunteer in Brazil micro loan project that supports rural families in North East Brazil.

This is initiative was started when teacher Louise Mulvana invited Global Link Development Education Centre into school to enable students to explore the Millennium Development Goals (8 goals set by the United Nations in the year 2000 to reduce global poverty) in a fun and creative way.

Longridge High

Inspired by what they had learnt about global poverty and motivated by a spirit of solidarity, the young people and teachers organised a carnival day to raise money to provide interest free loans to rural families in Cristino Castro.

Martin and Martina, our two Assumption volunteers in Cristino, will keep the community at Longridge High informed and connected with the families who will put the loan to good use by investing in small income generation projects like rearing goats, sheep or hens.  In two years time the loan will be repaid and the money can be recycled to help another family.

The 8th Millennium Development Goal is all about creating Global Partnerships for Development – lets hope that this project goes a little way in helping to fulfil this goal.

NB. There are a number of organisations involved with this initiative, including: Volunteer in Brazil, Global Link Development Education Centre, Longridge High School, The Assumption Lay Volunteer Programme and The Family Agricultural College in Cristino Castro – partnerships really can make a difference!


Share Button

The return of the cattle

Cattle1You may remember that a few months ago there was a grass fire at Boa Esperanca, forcing Miguel to find alternative pasture for his cattle (purchased through our micro loan initiative) well, the cows have now returned. Miguel reports that the rainy season has been weak so far but there has been sufficient rain for the pasture land to begin to grow.

The rainy season usually starts in late October and continues through to April. The place where Miguel lives is located within the semi arid region of North East Brazil where drought and bush fires are common place. January is a critical month for many rural families – if the rains fail in January then many families will lose their crops. Lets hope the rains fall abundantly for the people of Cristino Castro!

Share Button

Recycling cooking oil

In the campaign of collecting used cooking oil we managed 96 liters! That was very good because we traded oil for cleaning supplies and help not polluting the water of rivers, lakes and seas.

The result of the contest was a tie between group 2 and group 3. So to break the tie, we decided to have a competition to see who brought more scrap. This time the group 2 won and the prize will be a picnic at Paineiras.

And the class 1 was sad because didn’t win, but in the next round we will win!

by Group 1 – Projeto Tô Ligado

Share Button

Brazil’s farmers and micro finance 1

One of our leading projects in the North East of Brazil is to explore how we might offer support, through a micro finance innitiative, to rural communities in the north east of Brazil.

Joe has been leading on this and is currently in talks with our partners CAFOD and Global Link.

In this video Joe describes the context of the project.

We are new to micro finance and are hoping that others with more experience may come forward and help.

Share Button