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
A mosaic was created with recycled materials that were collected by the children in the community. It took the children 3 weeks to collect the material needed to build the mosaic. The mosaic was designed by the Chilean/Mexican plastic artist Jose Maria "Kotik" Villela. The idea of the mural was based on Capoeira. The construction of the mosaic took two weeks with the help of volunteers and the children who worked hard to create the art at the entrance wall of the community center. The children learn about the possibilities of reusing items, increasing the ecological awareness of both the residents and children of the community with the wonderful idea creating art through recycling.
At Julio Otoni´s Community Center the children are still learning new things and developing their skills.
In art classes the children have created their own stories and scenarios by using models made of clay, each group of children were able to conjure up their own own world and share their stories with their companions. These stories included a football game, a pond with ducklings and a couple, a seabed, a forest, a desert, a beach and these were just a few of the imaginative scenes.
During a painting class the children learned how to mix and make different colors by just using primary colours and as a result found a universe of new colours they could us within their beautiful designs.
Also in music lessons, they were busy learning rhythms and musical notes, they even made their own drums using bottles and cans and enjoyed playing these new percussion instruments with their hands and feet!
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Rio de Janeiro,
Rio de Janeiro,