David Oswell, an English Teacher of The Scots College in Sidney, Australia, got to Brasil for the World Cup bringing in his luggage, ball, football shirt, shoes. They were donated by affluent children of his college to poor kids in Rio. Through Lela de Silva, a volunteer that was in the Center two years ago, David got in touch with the Community Center Julio Otoni and was able to give to the children this material.
David brought his friends and together they played football with the children. These are the hidden histories of this important international event. The linkage between the children of Julio Otoni and the kids of Scots College of Sidney. Australia was made and the idea is that every year they will share not only football shoes and shirts but also experiences and visions of the world.
The partnership will continue.
Two volunteers, Guna Sauline and Hernan Almiron have inicitiate a new class that focus on transforming healthy food in artistic shapes. The title of the class is Dynamic Art and the vision is to estimulate children to do artistic shapes with their bodies, with healthy food and with paintings.
Julio Otoni is like most low income communities in Rio de Janeiro. Children eat unhealty processed food flavored and colored artificially. The transition is not easy and requires creativity to capture children's attention and interest. Thanks to this project this is happening and children are eating healthier and also learning how to express themselves using their bodies and also painting. Recently in one of the classes they have painted their souls.
This class will last until the end of the year and is a good exemple of an activity that has a lot of potential to improve children's wellbeing. It could be expanded to more children if donnations can support it. They money is need to buy the material. It is a wonderful initiative that can help change unhealty food patterns, so critical to improve the current state of health of children at Julio Otoni and around the world.
The highlight of 2013 was an increasing involvement of volunteers, both foreigners and nationals. Rio de Janeiro, which is the next two years will host two big sport events, World Cup ( 2014) and Olympics ( 2016) is attracting people from around of the world. The city is peculiar. It is beautiful, has interesting touristic infrastructure and at the same time, is a sample of social disparities and lack of care for the abundant nature in which the city is embedded. Responsible travel is a trend all over the world. People, especially young people, want to enjoy the city and at the same time contribute with something that adds value to the place they are visiting. The Community Center Julio Otoni has embraced these opportunities. Through the Hostel Casa 579, the project is able to receive volunteers and organize the contributions that they can offer for children and the community.
Volunteers were connected to Julio Otoni since its inception in 2005, this last year the program has received a new injection of enthusiasm and commitment. Today the volunteer program has a director that coordinates the demand and the planning alocation of these human resources. Believe it or not, it is quite challenging to find ways in which people can contribute despite their country of origin and the language that they speak.
Three volunteers deserve our special attention. Rachel Marquez, from the US; Niger Soares, from Rio de Janeiro and Natalia Mercado from Argentina. Together with many other volunteers they totally revitalized the center, engaging parents, creating new activities, organizing events, theater plays, outside promenades for the children. The result of this engagement was the final party of the year where children, parents, friends, foreigners and volunteers clearly showed in their faces the satisfaction for the real benefit created.
It is important to say that the project that host 50 children every single day runs on very little money. The main resource we have are people and their motivations to care for the children and improve the environments in which they live.
The story of the year is the childrens choir that filled with light and charm every single event, connecting all of us to beauty and to our hearts. They learned music from the Andean region, they got used to the new rythms of Latin America helping them to understand that besides being Cariocas ( name given to people born in Rio) and Brazilians, they belong to a continent that is Latin America.
Our blog, www.juliootoni.wordpress.com and our facebook page/ juliootoni have photos and more highlights of this very simple and positive story. We end here manifesting our gratefulness to our donor and friends, many of them anonymous. They believe on the power of positive energy in making the world a better place for all of us.
Julio Otoni community Center exist since 2006. Hundreds of Children of the community have been benefitted by having this place as their home. There they play, they sing, they learn, they dance. The main resource on which the project counts are the volunteers. They can contribute at the center for a minimun of two week and a maximun of months or even years. During the last 4 years Julio Otoni became the main social responsibility project of a hostel, Casa579, www.casa579.com. The founder of Casa 579 was one of the first volunteers at Julio Otoni Community Center. Today, Casa 579 hosts foreign volunteers that will work at Julio Otoni. They also help coordinate the work of these volunteers. Besides offering to the children classes, the volunteers also promote special fundraisers, campaigns in the community , festivals.
The last festival took place last July, during the winter holiday, the volunteers organize with JO children “Jobatucanto,” as the group is affectionately known, is an amalgamation of the words “Jo” – for “Julio Otoni,” “batu”, for “batucada,” a sub-style of samba that includes African-influenced percussion, and “canto,” referring to the vocal aspect of the group. The group was formed in October 2011 when Profesora Vânia from Minas Gerais first started volunteering at the center. The kids learned Brazilian and African rhythms until Profesora Natalia, from Argentina, joined in July 2012 and expanded their repertoire. Jobatucanto did the music for Cinderella, the kids’ musical theater performance earlier this year. The show featured songs from Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay. It was a wonderful dive for children into our Latin America Soul.
The past few months have been packed! In April, the children performed "Cinderella in the Favela", a music and theater production. The play was written, produced, and directed by the English teaching volunteers, and was a collaboration between the weekly music and break dance classes. Both the morning and afternoon terms were able to participate, showcasing their English skills, dance moves and musical talent in an amazing performance that opened for two nights. The first show was held in the community center itself for the family and friends of the kids and the second was held at Casa 579, a neighboring bed & breakfast where many of the Julio Otoni volunteers live. Both events were very well attended and equally fun for the kids and the audience alike! Read more and see pictures about the performance here.
A new wave of volunteers from all over the world, including Mexico, Argentina, France, Switzerland, Brazil and the United States arrived at the center, bringing a diversity of activities and classes. Recreational games, photography, and emotional intelligence classes have joined the pre-existing English classes, music classes, and study hall. Due to the success of the Cinderella production, these current volunteers hope to put on another musical showcase next month.
And most recently a group of children went on a field trip to see a theater production, “Pequena coleção de todas as coisas” (“A Little Collection of Everything”) at Espacinho SESC, a socially conscious organization that puts on cultural events and is involved in health, sports, and tourism programs. The Julio Otoni Center and all the enriching activities provided to the children there are made possible by the hard working local staff members and the international volunteers that bring their respective talents to teach to the children. The staff and volunteers need your help to continue doing their invaluable work. No donation is too small, and every contribution helps to keep this center running as a positive force in an at-risk community. Thank you again, and please, spread the word about this project!
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Rio de Janeiro,
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