Being instrumental!

Dave & Shelagh Ricardson are on a mission to acquire musical instruments for young people in Rio. Here is an extract from a recent email:

You may (or may not know) for the last 18 months we have been working with the To Ligado project in Rio de Janeiro which works with children from the local favelas (slums). As well as the vital educational support the project gives them they also try to raise the childrens’ self esteem and bring out any hidden talent they may have but the Brasilian educational system will never Identify and/or develop. One of the most exciting aspects of the work is with Tom Ashe ((a fellow Yorshireman) who is introducing music to the children and is training them  to play in the favelas as part of the Carnival Blocos. This will be a first for the city. In the last 12 months we have witnessed   remarkable progress and they are already performing in public  and have appeared on Rio TV – BUT they still need to practice more outside the project. At the moment Instrument’s cannot be allowed into all their homes as they will be sold/swopped for drugs/alcohol etc etc.. Tom is setting up “safe bases” in each of the neighbouring favelas where instruments can be left so the children can go every day to practice.

Instruments are very expensive in Brasil and unlike the UK second hand instruments are very rare. Could you please :

Let me know if you have or hear of or come across any cheap (or free) second hand brass and woodwind instruments – we can probably collect anywhere in the UK

Let me know if you are planning to visit Rio (or Brasil) anytime in the next 6 months and if you have space for just such an instrument – you will be guaranteed a warm welcome at the project (and all the curry you can eat at Toms Curry Club)



I know all of this is a long shot but worth a try. The picture we enclose is  the star of the band, Duda, she cant read and write, until recently had never been to the nearby beach, doesn’t know her birthday and is  mainly looked after  by her 11 year old sister BUT is always happy, has a hidden musical talent and a desire to develop it.

If you can help please get in touch with Dave and Shelagh at:

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Happy Christmas


The trustees would like to wish everyone connected to VinB a happy and peaceful Christmas

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Reverse Culture Shock

Four of our volunteers have recently returned – re-adjusting to life back home can be a real challenge

Reverse culture shock is something that all volunteers are told about in their preparation for living overseas but until you actually  experience it – it remains but a distant ‘threat’ in the back of your mind. Ultimately, it is an opportunity for personal and spiritual growth but it can be painful. When you enter into an different culture you expect to feel uncomfortable, out of place, on the outside looking in. When you return home you expect to enter back into the familiar and comfortable. But many a returning volunteer finds that they can’t just step back in. Without always being aware of it returning volunteers have changed in some fundamental ways  – they no longer see or experience the world in quite the same way as they did before they left home. They can’t always step back into what was once familiar and comfortable because they have changed. This change in perception changes the way they experience life: As the saying goes: “We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are”. How we experience life depends very much on how we perceive it – if our perception changes then so will our experience.

Returned volunteers often feel isolated and alone, they can feel a deep sense of loss that home no longer feels like home. Again they can feel like a stranger looking in  – but this time they are looking in on their own culture in which they feel like an outsider.

We would welcome any stories from returned volunteers who have experienced reverse culture shock.




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Back around the hearth

Full of life, adventure and mischief are two local volunteers, Dave and Shelagh Richardson, have landed back home just in time for Christmas.

On their second campaign to the Living & Learning Project Dave and Shelagh shared all their vast knowledge and skills in teaching and youth work with young people from Santa Teresa. A long side a team of international volunteers and local staff they provided opportunities for young people to help build self esteem and engagement with their local communities through music, art and excursions.

Dave & Shelagh

Cheers guys – when does the third campaign start?


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Martina’s return

Christmas in Europe welcomes Martina as she returns to family and friends in Slovakia.

Over the course of the last year Martina experienced life in the dry North East where people struggle to make a living in harsh climatic conditions, and then like many who leave the bush for the big city, she ventured to Rio to work with young people from the poorest communities of the Santa Teresa district. Martina will take home with her a rich experience of life in very different contexts. She will be missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have lived and worked with her.


On the behalf of all connected to VinB I would like to thank Martina for her good humour, laughter and spirit of service.

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Martin hands over responsibility

Martin, our volunteer for nearly fours years, hands over responsibility for the coordination of the micro loan projects.

Martin has worked hard over the last few years to establish good relationships with communities and families across the region of Cristino Castro. For the last two years he has been instrumental in the setting up of our micro loan project. Six families now benefit from his hard work and the financial support provided by schools and individuals from the UK and Slovakia.

During our project visit to Brazil in November of this year Rosalba and I were delighted to see how each of the projects was developing, some against very difficult circumstances. It was lovely to see and experience the deep and respectful relationships that Martin has established with each of the beneficiaries.

But the time has come for Martin to return to his native shores. On the behalf of all those connected to VinB I thanked Martin for his loyal service and dedication. The batten has now been handed over to Jose Oliveira, a local agronomist and long term friend of VinB.


I am sure that you would like to join with me in wishing Martin all the very best in his future endeavours.



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These are our children

Syria Chrismas appeal

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Meeting the basic needs of food and shelter for the children and families of war torn Syria makes uncomfortable reading when contrasted with the wants generated by our capitalist consumer driven economy.
Keynes  predicted that by 2030 technology would have developed sufficiently to take over the burden of production and provide sufficient earnings from a few hours of work to live the ‘good life’. Capitalism would have served its purpose ! Sadly  it has not worked out that way, instead capitalism  has become the master persuading us that  the  ‘the good life’ is to be found in consumerism and effectively confusing and conflating  wants and needs.

Our task is to work out what the universal features of a ‘good life’ are and how to achieve them for all.  It is heartening that  out of the disillusionment  with  the current economic systems  there is an groundswell of  interest and thinking about  what constitutes a ‘good life’.

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A stunning image

that had to be shared…thanks to Dave.

Inspired by Tom Ash

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