Empower 30 Indigenous Youth in Fortaleza, Brazil

Apr 17, 2014

Putting Education First

Indigenous Youth speaking at event
Indigenous Youth speaking at event

In 2014, MSMC has continued to develop its indigenous Pitaguary youth project with a focus on professional development and socio-educational support by helping the youth get into college, take technical courses, and prepare them for the job market. This project benefits youth ages 14 to 25 in the indigenous community of Maracanaú, Ceará, Brazil.

The last few months have been very busy! Take a look at some of the activities completed:

  • Student enrollment in new schools for 2014
  • Helping students with college entrance exams (ENEM, SISU, PROUNI)
  • Indigenous rituals in dialogue with the Lakota culture (sacred sauna) and strengthening of the Pitaguary community through the traditional Toré dance
  • Participation in community events that promote human rights, health, and indigenous and environmental education
  • Three students enrolled in a "vestibular" (like the SAT) college entrance exam prep course at Ari de Sá school in Fortaleza, with a focus on the Medicine major
  • Three students enrolled in an English class
  • Monthly meetings with parents and students to talk about program progress
  • 4 youths participated in the 13th Inter-ecclesiastical Meeting of Cebs in Juazeiro do Norte in Ceará, Brazil

As a final point, January through March of 2014 ended the scholarship programs that allowed students to study in private schools, so all current students in the program are studying in public schools. 6 have finished high school and 12 will finish in 2015. 


Participants in same Inter-ecclesiastical event
Participants in same Inter-ecclesiastical event


Dec 17, 2013

Boosting Education and Self-Esteem

International Mental Health Day
International Mental Health Day

Dear Global Givers,

We have more to report from August through December 2013. Your donations have been hard at work supporting opportunities for indigenous Pitaguary youth to make their dreams come true.

In these last several months, we have accomplished:

  • Self-esteem and biodance classes
  • After-school activities with tutoring
  • Indigenous rituals inspired by the Lakota (sacred sauna) and strengthening of Pitaguary culture through the Toré dance
  • Participation in events that promote human rights and indigenous and environmental health and education
  • Participation of 6 youths in the national college entrance exam (ENEM)
  • Monthly meetings with parents and students to evaluate their progress and the program

We sure have been busy – and all of this would not have been possible without your support. We were able to serve about 150 indigenous people through the various activities listed above. The result was personal and intellectual growth, boosting of self-esteem, identification with indigenous culture, greater awareness of environmental issues, and greater motivation to study and be involved in the community.

Thank you to all of our donors! Mitakuye Oyasin (We are all relatives)

Yes to Life - Anti-Drug Program
Yes to Life - Anti-Drug Program


Aug 14, 2013

Helping Indigenous Youth Make it to College

Indigenous Youth Going to College Because of You!
Indigenous Youth Going to College Because of You!

Dear supporters,

May, June and July have been busy months for Empowering Indigenous Youth in Fortaleza, Brazil!

The Community Mental Health Movement (MSMC) has engaged students in many activities, with a focus on academics and fostering pride in indigenous culture.  These activities included tutoring, engaging in traditional Lakota rituals (such as the sacred sauna), events on human rights and environmental education, and even a trip to Rio for World Youth Day!

Each month during this period, an average of 100 indigenous youth were served and the result of the various activities offered was growing maturity in the majority of participants. There was a noticeable increase in self-esteem, identification with indigenous culture, a greater ecological awareness, greater motivation to go on to college, greater participation in community activities and greater respect for leaders among themselves, their tribal chief, and their elders.

To put a concrete face to these amazing gains, 6 students, through the support of MSMC (and your donations!) took the college entrance exams for the State University of Ceará (UECE).

These students (pictured above) are:

  1. Virna Duarte-Medicine
  2. Jean Iarli-Medicine
  3. Tamires da Silva-Pharmacy
  4. Patricia Ferreira-Veterinarian Medicine
  5. Priscila Ferreira- Veterinarian Medicine
  6. Thiago Rodrigues-Mechanical Engineering

Congratulations to our students! With your support, we can look forward to sending even more students to college, breaking the cycle of poverty that afflicts the indigenous community of Fortaleza. Now that is social transformation!


May 13, 2013

Aldeia! A Celebration of Indigenous Culture

Indigenous Community Performing the Tore Dance
Indigenous Community Performing the Tore Dance

One of the key components of empowering indigenous youth in Fortaleza is to help them connect and take pride in their ethnic Pitaguary roots. Through your support, MSMC is able to organize a variety of experiences to achieve that goal.

One such recent experience was a performance of the traditional Toré dance in four villages (or aldeias) simultaneously, where youth interacted with locals, other Pitaguary, and other native Brazilian tribes. It was a momentous ocassion for the youth to publicly display and celebrate what it means to be Pitaguary. It was an opportunity to practice coexistence with other communities and strengthen their "ecofilia," or connection to Mother Earth. 

In one of the villages, known as Monguba, extra celebration was in order because of the recent government recognition of additional protected indigenous Pitaguary land. One of the indigenous youth, Neto Witko Pitaguary, spoke at the celebration, highlighting how such a move represents not only a victory for the Pitaguary, but also for the enviroment, for the land was under threat of being reused as a stone quarry, as it had been in the past.

Our students have the talent and the will to be great. Thank you for helping us put the resources behind them to make that greatness possible.


Feb 19, 2013

Benicio - Pitaguary and a University Student - You Made His Dreams Come True

Benicio Proudly Wearing His University T-Shirt
Benicio Proudly Wearing His University T-Shirt

One of the core objectives of the Empowering Indigenous Youths project is to help youth fulfill their academic and career dreams. Your contribution to the project has helped students such as Benício make those dream come true.

Benício is a member of the Pitaguary tribe. As part of this project, Benício earned a scholarship to attend Piamarta, a private high school in Fortaleza. Unfortunately, public education (K-12) is very poor in Brazil and often students who attend public schools are not prepared for the rigorous college entrance exams, known as the “vestibular” and “Enem.” As in the US, indigenous peoples in Brazil often live in areas with poor infrastructure and high rates of poverty, where public schools are the only option.

Through this project, we are breaking the cycle of poverty. Benício, through your support, was able to attend a private high school and receive academic enrichment, participated in sacred rituals that keep him grounded in his indigenous culture, and self-esteem and self-empowerment therapy that help him develop resilience and determination. As a result, Benício is now studying mathematics at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC), the best university in Fortaleza.

While he studies, Benício remains an active member and role model for the other indigenous youth in the project. He serves as a coordinator for the Apprenticeship Center of Bom Jardim, helping other students prepare for college and careers. He is an example of a success story – of the potential that every youth has, if only given the opportunity.

Thank you for your continued support of indigenous youth in Fortaleza, Brazil!


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Project Leader

Natasha Baker

Fortaleza, CE Brazil

Where is this project located?

Map of Empower 30 Indigenous Youth in Fortaleza, Brazil