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!
Summer should be a time for fun, relaxation, and vacation, but for many youth in under-privileged communities, summer can be a stressful time for working families without resources or opportunities for places to send their kids. That is why every summer the Julio Otoni Center organizes a week-long Colonia de Ferias, or Summer Camp, providing fun and educational activities to the kids in the community. The summer camp began before Carnival, with four days of different activities organized by a team of international volunteers. Each day there were 25-30 kids eagerly waiting to see what that day had in store. There was a day of sports, a day of art projects about their community, a day of singing and music, and culminating with a day of wacky competitions such as spelling bees, trivia, and other brain teasers! After Carnival the group came back together the following Thursday for a field trip! 16 kids and 7 volunteers went to Casa do Pontal, a museum of popular Brazilian art and folklore from the 20th century. When the group arrived they were greeted by what one volunteer described as a “pied piper”, leading the group with guitar and song through the museum. “The kids were captivated by the theatrical presentation of their guide, as were we! She managed to bring to life folk history and to get the children involved as well. It was brilliant," reported one volunteer. “My favorite part was the puppet show! I got to be the bull,” said one student about acting out a popular folk tale. The museum is located in Recreio, a neighborhood just outside of downtown Rio. The children were glued to the window during the 90 minute bus ride, passing through the famous beach neighborhoods of São Conrado, and Barra. While these places are only located a few kilometers away from where they live, many of the children had never seen these neighborhoods, nor the open ocean. On the way home from the museum, the group stopped in São Conrado to watch the para gliders and hang gliders jumping from the mountains above and landing on the beach. Rio de Janeiro is a city rich with cultural centers and activities. With your donations and support, we can continue to offer and expand upon these opportunities to the youth of the Julio Otoni Community. We also hope to expand our Colonia de Ferias to longer than one week, for the upcoming winter holidays in July, and the following summer. From Rio, we thank you
Rain poured throughout the city, creating ankle deep streams in the hilly streets and pathways of Rio’s favelas. School has just been dismissed for the summer, and the city is buzzing with pre-holiday shopping, traffic, and yes, stress. It would seem dark, wet, and dismal, but there is light shining from the Julio Otoni Community Center as 40 children gather for their end of the year Holiday Party. Beyond the food and Christmas gifts that the center is providing, the children are also very excited to perform five songs they have been practicing for months in their after school program.
Thanks to two dedicated volunteers and musicians, Vania Borges from Brazil and Natalia Mercado from Argentina, the children at the Julio Otoni Community Center have had voice and percussion classes once a week to look forward to in addition to their homework help, snacks, and art activities before and after school.
The Community Center is a vital space to the children in this community. There are no nearby parks or spaces for them to play. The Community Center provides a safe, welcoming, and enriching environment for these at risk youth.
Your contributions will keep this vibrant space alive! Whether a one-time donation, or an on-going sponsorship of a child, your donation will make an impact on these youth’s lives. From Rio de Janeiro, we thank you!
Volunteers are one of the driving forces of Julio Otoni project. Since its inception in 2006, volunteers from all over the world have had a chance to experiencing the work with the children, the challenges of sustaining a project in a Favela in Rio, the joy of seeing the children participating and evolving through the activities. We continue to welcome volunteers especially the ones that are able to engage for a long stay. In our page http//www.juliootoni.wordpress.com , it is possible to find the current activities and the ways to engage. Here we include the testimonies of the two volunteers that have experienced Julio Otoni. Teresa Keohane from the UK is volunteering with Julio Otoni since her arrival in Brazil in 2006. Today Teresa helps recruiting volunteers to the project. Listen what she says: "Volunteering at the Julio Otoni Project was an amazing and thoroughly rewarding experience. The children at the project are so eager to learn and get the most out of the activities offered and you really feel that by being there you are making a difference. It is very rewarding to be able to offer something to these children and give them the chance to participate in activities and experiences that they otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to be part of, and interact with people they normally wouldn't come into contact with. This all helps to broaden their horizons and perhaps makes a difference to their future and the choices they make in it. Also, as a volunteer I found that the experience helped me grow on a personal level as you get the chance to learn and challenge yourself in ways that you would not normally do. The Julio Otoni Project is a unique volunteering opportunity in Rio - aside from being an amazing experience, the project is well organised and you feel that your skills or desire to help are being put to a good use. Also, it is one of the few projects in Rio where volunteers are not charged a fee to participate in the project which helps make it more accessible for potential volunteers." Laure Huys from France spent two months volunteering at Julio Otoni, May and June of 2012. Here is what she says. "I had an amazingly great and rich experience teaching at the Centro comunitario Julio Otoni. What I appreciated is that I got there from one day to the other and I was free to teach whatever I wanted. I decided to teach arts and crafts based on recycled material to educate and sensitize the kids to sustainable development and to motivate their creativity with what they have. So, I came twice a week to teach and spend some time with the kids. Thanks to this I learnt portugues very quickly and I got to know a lot about how people live in favelas, how brasilians are in a very creative and joyful atmosphere. For sure, I would recommend anyone to have the same experience and for sure, I would do it again!" Would you like to recommend Julio Otoni for a volunteer that comes to Rio? Get in contact: email@example.com http://facebook.com/juliootoni
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Rio de Janeiro,
Rio de Janeiro,