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.
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Rio de Janeiro,
Rio de Janeiro,