Trainers…. lots of them, donated to the children of the Living & learning project by Nike. Beth is constantly on the alert for opportunities to enrich and affirm the lives of the children be it people to share their skills, visits away from the favela or in this instance finding her way into Nike’s community project.
Beth´s commitment to using resources to the best effect was no better demonstrated than during the shopping trip for food and gifts for the Saturday party. We headed for an area of town noted for its cheap shops and Beth and Monica went from shop to shop comparing prices putting things into the shopping trolley and then removing them when a better option presented itself. Every possible bit of value was wrung from the budget they had, but always with the children in mind and what they would like.
Beth has told us since that the party was high on enjoyment for the children, a bit low as a fundraiser but as parties go a huge success.
Funding that beth receives is spent wisely and effectively; this I know.
Rio is hilly and green, both of which I had forgotten until we began our first adventure and passed through the convent gates and along Santa Teresa’s steep cobbled streets. Lined on either side with living accommodation old and new and no two the same. A few of them gracious but mostly not so gracious and between these grey facades glimpses of the favelas. A constant reminder of the uneven distribution of the country’s growing economy.
Our strategy on such walks is to follow a bus route until we are tired or hungry or both and then hop on a bus travelling in the opposite direction.
Thus we continued noting the buses that are circular and their frequency in this case each displaying a set price, we lamented the absence of the famous Bondi tram, a cheap means of travel. Not yet returned to service since a tragic accident; blamed by the users on a lack of regular servicing and investment. In response the authority have provided a cheap bus service which runs only every couple of hours and is not reliable. Forcing the higher cost onto those least able to afford it. On arriving in the city we halted our walk to buy a coconut cake from a refrigerated barrow which was washed down with an iconic coca de agua all the time observing the people of Rio get on with the day’s business.
Though roads are crowded with traffic drivers seem to have a sixth sense and cars slip in and out of each other with little more than a hair’s breadth to spare, with mercifully few accidents. And mingled in with the traffic, boys with barrows making home deliveries of building materials.
With a visit to the Living & learning project scheduled for the afternoon we boarded the bus for an unforgettable white knuckle return journey. Boarding the bus was one thing getting past the ridiculously narow turnstile required contorting the body into a very unnatural shape, just when I was about to give in I popped through like a champaign cork. Most embarrasing to me but amusing to Keith. Great speed was achieved up through the narrow streets along the cobbles which caused every bone to shake, as well as every bolt of the bus. During the afternoon we helped the children to make flags for the fundraising party on Saturday. The celebration marks the feasts of St Peter and St John.
Monica and Wellington were busy helping and organising the children and good humour and kindliness poured out of them.
Monica reluctantly became another bemused victim of an enforced conversation in Portuguese.
The visit though brief was a powerful reminder of the impact the project has on the lives of the children and the importance of expanding our fundraising efforts.
“Where’s my passport” scares, one lost terminal at Sao Paulo airport, many bemused faces when trying out the Portuguese and one chocolate pizza; and we are only three and a bit days into our holiday/ visit to the Living & Learning project.
Our journey despite the ‘ losing the will to live flight’ took just about 24 hours from door to door.
Equipment sent out to the project by Dave and Shelagh travelled with us and caused quite a bit of interest to customs who I had to assure of the fact that it was old and of little value. It made sense when Beth told us that Amazon can only sell books on their site as the government policy is to protect its home manufacturing and markets.
We have a very comfortable room with a spectacular view of the bay and the incoming planes which do a circuit of the bay as they prepare for landing.
Now it is time for breakfast but just a quick word about the pizza the ‘Brazil style’ restaurant we visited last evening. We took the pizza buffet option which means that one starts with an empty plate and select slices of pizzas, as often as appetite allows, from the waiters who constantly circle the tables offering a wide variety to choose from.
Gabriel was able to join us for pizzas. He returned to Rio about a month ago after a year spent volunteering in the Assumption Sisters project in Newcastle.
Off to breakfast, I wonder if they are serving chocolate pizza.