Former beneficiaries now on the team!
Dear Friends and Supporters
Success story – coming back home!!
One of Viva a Vida’s principles is to apply your amazing donations to train young people and provide the community with new experiences, in terms of both qualifications, and social and political development. All of this is undertaken from the perspective of empowerment and the pursuit of autonomy. Over the years, we have developed important projects with our Viva Juntos group of young people, training them in different areas of art and social management. And little by little, at various times, some of them have joined our team.
Now in 2023, with your help, we have started the year reinforcing this approach and today, three of our young participants, former project beneficiaries, have joined the team and are being paid for their work!
Lucas, who is 22 years old, has joined our team as Assistant to the Coordinator. For five years, Lucas was a member of our V2 Theater Group; when he began taking theater classes he was feeling extremely vulnerable because of his sexuality. He had been involved in gay relationships but was experiencing a lot of internal conflict and problems with his family, who practice a religion that does not ‘accept’ homosexuality. These conflicts and excessive suppression meant that he was very shy and ultimately led to depression; at one point he was cutting himself to deal with his mental anguish. Through the theater, he began to feel much more liberated and to develop his potential. Today, he is a member of the team, occupying a very important position advising the General Coordinator in administrative activities and transforming, day by day, into an empowered and autonomous young man, passing on his learning to his peers as a knowledge multiplier. His target for this year is return to education and study administration at university. He has gained the respect of his mother, who is also now a volunteer at Viva a Vida!
“I was very depressed again, at home and with no prospects, which was when I asked Evelin if she knew of anywhere that was hiring people, and I was so surprised when she said, yes, Viva a Vida was. I cried! Talking to my mum that day, I said I was starting to live again.”
Ana Clara is 23 years old, a psychology student and has been hired as an Assistant for our Afroteca library. Ana Clara was also a member of the theatre group, she had moved to Bahia from another state and was having a lot of difficulties adapting, until she joined Viva a Vida and started learning the art of theater. Although she was shy, she was very dedicated and acted in significant roles. She started studying psychology and, although she has overcome a great deal, she still suffers from shyness and problems with her self-image. For Ana Clara, returning to Viva a Vida has provided her with a new opportunity to carry on conquering her frailties.
“I am so honored by this invitation to work at Viva a Vida. The NGO is ‘saving’ my life again.”
Thiago is 22 years old and a youth cultural mobilizer; today he is known as the Revolution Poet. Some of you may have heard of Thiago, he has a long history of partnership and love with Viva a Vida, and you can follow his story in many of our reports and publications. Thiago found out about our work through our Human Rights and Racism workshops and then became a member of the Viva Juntos project, since when he has reached incredible heights. Having got mixed up in a drug-trafficking gang, he came to Viva a Vida feeling very bitter, with family problems and few prospects. Through literature, Thiago discovered poetry and so far he has written five books. He has become a role model for other young people in the State of Bahia. This year, as a member of the Viva a Vida team, he will be responsible for running Arts Events aimed at engaging young people and training them in how to mobilize political support.
“I’m so pleased to represent Viva a Vida, it changed my life. Now I have to do the same for other people.”
Viva a Vida has received funding through the Projects that Transform Lives grant of Braskem, a private company, to set up the first physical Afroteca Muvuca library in Bahia. This is aimed at working with literature and identity with 90 children from the Cordoaria Quilombo in Vila de Abrantes, pupils at four local elementary schools. The Afroteca Muvuca will be located in a container equipped to receive 20 children per day, three times a week, with monthly storytelling activities open to all the community. It will contain 150 books on black, indigenous and quilombola themes, which will be used in classes applying an educational plan constructed by educators specializing in Afro-centered Education.
In order to run a project of this size, we have decided to open a new office in the Cordoaria Quilombo and establish Viva a Vida there as a mechanism to support the community. Working with traditional peoples strengthens our mission and our strategy, whose main aim is to combat racism.
This is also part of Viva a Vida’s institutional strengthening strategy, which, over the coming years, will be focused on creating strong links with public and private bodies in order to become a center of reference for work with Human Rights in the State of Bahia, specifically with traditional peoples and black youth.
First meeting about Education for Ethnic-Race Relations
To add more value and new social technologies to our project, on 25 February we held our First Meeting about Education for Ethnic-Race Relations, mediated by educational specialists and Viva a Vida consultants Mariana Barreto and Vanessa Lemos and held in the building of the Cordoaria Residents Association. The meeting was attended by the Viva a Vida team and board members, community leaders, a representative from the Department of Racial Equality, and representatives from other quilombos and funders.
We discussed strategies about how to develop and apply the ethnic-racial approach within formal education arenas, specifically focusing on quilombola children. The mediators discussed the history of education and racism in Brazil and encouraged participants to consider their own identity and self-image, relating this to their personal experiences of racism and other rights violations. Their empowering and sensitive approach led to a rich debate about the real impacts of racism and other violations, and how we will combat these using a Afro-centered approach in the Afroteca Muvuca.
Without your support, none of this enriching work would have been possible, so please accept our thanks and our huge appreciation of your generous donations!
1st Meeting about Education for Race Relations
A quote from Nelson Mandela to inspire us
Our new office in the Cordoaria Quilombo
Trainers and Participants at the Meeting