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Dec 27, 2013

Have you ever heard a quilombola story?

Mrs. Maria Adao telling a story about her gradma
Mrs. Maria Adao telling a story about her gradma

Vaga Lume invites you to get to know the amazing tales of Amazonian rural communities that have African traditions.


Dear supporter,

Did you know that the Brazilian Amazon occupies more than half of Brazil’s territory and is home for the most diverse peoples? In the region, there are not only many different indigenous peoples, but also people living in rural settlements, riverside and roadside communities.

In this report, we are going to talk about quilombola people. They are the descendants of slaves who escaped Brazil's plantations and fled deep into the Amazon rainforest for security and protection.

Vaga Lume established libraries in 18 quilombola communities (out of its 160 community libraries) and constantly discusses with its volunteers how to use books as well as reading and writing skills to empower quilombola people to fight for their rights. As a result of a consultation during Vaga Lume 6th Conference, in 2012, Vaga Lume’s quilombola volunteers agreed that the best contribution the organization can give is to cherish and disseminate quilombola cultural expressions and traditions. 

Following this guideline, Vaga Lume used some of the resources raised with your help in GlobalGiving to mobilize volunteers to take part in a course on how to promote storytelling moments and produce handmade books in Boa Vista, a quilombola community in the city of Oriximiná, in Pará state. The result was amazing, as you can see in the picture!

Celice Oliveira and Márcia Licá, Vaga Lume’s educators as well as Laura Mattar, Vaga Lume’s Partnerships Manager, worked for months to organize the course together with many volunteers from Oriximiná, represented by Klícia Oliveira, the local leader. Already in Boa Vista for the training, they met the 31 participants who spent four days together discussion reading mediation, the work in the community libraries and the need to preserve and value oral traditions.

One night, the group sat together in a big circle to hear remarkable traditional stories and histories from the senior community members. It was an unforgettable experience to all! Especially to the 31 rural teachers, housewives, and janitors that  turned  into inspired book writers, illustrators, and editors. One of the participants mentioned that his favorite part of the course was “to see traditional tales being valued when turned into books”.

Indeed, the five handmade books produced (Fuga para o Quilombo e o Resgate da Vovó – The runaway to the Quilombo and the rescue of the Grandma;            A Bota do Varjão – Varjão’s Boots; O Pico do Vovô Marcelo – Grandpa Marcelo’s pick; A verdadeira História de João da Mata – The True History of João da Mata;  Negra Zuleide e sua Aventura no Castanhal – Negra Zuleide and her Adventure in the Castanhal) are full of quilombola characteristics and show the history of fight and resistance still strong in the hearts and minds of these people. And now, of course, also strong in our hearts and minds!

For us, writing these reports is also a way of disseminating the diverse and astonishing cultural expressions existing in the Amazon, which is a fundamental part of Vaga Lume’s work. Our work is only possible because of people like you, who understand the importance of access to books and reading in rural Amazon as well as the valuing of their diverse cultural expressions, such as the quilombolas.

If you want to know more about Vaga Lume’s stories, please visit our website ( and subscribe to our English newsletter!

And, at last, but not least, consider supporting our project once again by the end of the year: you will certainly fill 2014 up with lots of stories for thousands of kids and youngsters in the Amazon!

Feel free to contact us to share your thoughts and questions!

All the best,

Vaga Lume Team

Traditional dance presentation after storytelling
Traditional dance presentation after storytelling
Course participants making the handmade books
Course participants making the handmade books
The True History of Joao da Mata original book
The True History of Joao da Mata original book
Oct 8, 2013

To thank you, we invite you to meet Jersen, the winner of the most active reader contest

Jersen Hiury and his friends
Jersen Hiury and his friends

Dear friends, 

We could not start telling our stories in the Amazon without thanking all our supporters and friends that helped Vaga Lume to succeed in GlobalGiving’s September Challenge! It was very exciting for us to see each donation arriving day by day as we got closer to achieving our goal. We would like to offer our deepest gratitude to all of you! 

You are now part of Vaga Lume, and you can be sure that you are contributing a lot to provide quality education to around 24,000 children that live in the 160 rural communities of 23 municipalities in the Brazilian Legal Amazon region where the organization created community libraries. Twelve years ago, Vaga Lume started promoting reading in the North region of Brazil, which has a very rich cultural diversity and, yet, a very worrying illiteracy rate. 

Since 2001, we bring books where it has never arrived before and train teachers and volunteers to make it accessible for the whole community. Because of such hard work, we have amazing cases of young book-lovers in the middle of the biggest rainforest in the world. 

In this opportunity, we invite you to meet Jersen Hiury, a 13 year-old boy who is the most frequent user of the library in Terra Nova community. The community library is called Lights of Knowledge (Luz do Saber, in Portuguese) and is located in the Unini River, a tributary of the Black River, in Barcelos municipality, Amazonas state.    

Jersen is the winner of the most active reader in Terra Nova community contest that was organized by the library’s volunteers. To win the challenge, Jersen, who always participate in library’s cultural activities and games, read 17 books in one month: it is more than one book every other day! 

“I thought the contest was really fun and I decided to participate in it because I love to read! I usually visit the library every week and my favorite book is ‘The Voyage of the Poppykettle’, written and illustrated by Robert Ingpen. I am not a volunteer of the library yet, but I intend to become one soon!”, said Jersen.

Stories like Jersen’s show how books and reading are powerful weapons to improve the quality of education and transform realities around the Amazon region of Brazil.

At last, but not least, we invite you to revel in our stories and reports so as to discover the Amazon, its culture and its people from a new - and fantastic – perspective! Please visit Vaga Lume’s website ( and subscribe to our newsletter!

Please feel free to contact us to share your thoughts and questions!

Warm regards, 


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