Letters and Careers Exchange Project
Dear Friends and Kind Supporters,
We have overcome and are still learning!
We’ve told you before how we’ve had to reorganize our activities to meet the new demands arising from the pandemic. With your amazing and generous support, we’ve managed to adapt all our activities and been able to go with the flow. Our main aim has always been to equip our beneficiaries, especially young people, with the tools to deal with the rights violations they experience, because they are poor, mostly Afro-Brazilians, living in the city periphery, in a region that suffers extreme violence and a lack of access to public services. These tools will strengthen them in their fight for a better community and a better life.
In recognition of the work you have supported, we are pleased to announce that Viva a Vida’s workshops have entered the state government’s educational plan as a Complementary Curriculum Activity. This means that they have been formally recognized as activities that complement the high school curriculum, with content designed and applied by our team now included as a regular high school subject.
With this behind us and with your help, we’ve been able to maintain our core activity providing workshops in the Vila de Abrantes State College, our long-standing partner. Following the education guidelines of the Bahia State Education Department and WHO health recommendations, this year we reformulated our workshops to provide them online. Through the school's digital channels, in 2021, around 1,200 students, aged between 15 and 18 years, participated in our remote learning activities.
These included 26 workshops about Human Rights, Community Action, Race Relations, Racism, the Concepts of Violence, Drug Policy, the Incarceration of Black Youth, Penal Populism and Poetry Writing. All these classes have been recorded on the Vila de Abrantes State College YouTube channel and can be accessed at any time (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZIEc5t5CuyBBfN_aDgajcA).
The results of our evaluations were surprising and very pleasing - 100% of the students who responded to our assessment confirmed that, following the workshops, they understand more about Human Rights, racism and violence; 97% feel better prepared to confront racism and other rights violations; and 90% we able to identify legal instruments and other means to report them.
One result of the workshops were dozens of political poems and expressions, some of which are quoted below, while others will soon be available on our Instagram account @vivaavidaorg. At the end of the course, 97% of the students understood that poetry and literature can help them to understand other themes. It’s worth noting that the students’ texts touch on the content learnt over this period and that they express the construction of new values, understanding each student’s role in combatting racism and other rights violations.
Life Stories by Ingrid
“Some with a lot
Others with a little
The bullet sings
The police climb the hill
Dona Maria cries
Calling for help
Another black dead body
Lying at her door.”
“Fear of change. But what would there be without it? Can you light a fire without burning firewood? Can you cook without transforming food? Can a vital process occur without something being altered? Can’t you see? It’s the same with you – change is vital for nature”. Jairle
"I wake up with problems, a target on my chest, I’m not perfect, I only want a day with full respect, with every right to live another day, I know I’m black, but I want the right to live another day.” Ingrid
"Opening a book is like opening a door, it has an entrance and an exit, when you go in, there’s a story, when you leave too, thinking with my mind, I will go far, to Berlin or Belem, I will go out to play with verses too” Daniel
Summary of the projects you have supported:
a) Human Rights, Racism and Violence Workshops: as mentioned above, approximately 1,200 students participated in these workshops. Here’s what some of the students had to say:
“In this week’s classes I learnt that there are still many people who devalue black people and worship white ones. That there are still those who hurt the people I love”.
“I learnt that without Human Rights, the world would be worse than it is, and we need to change. To change our thinking and remove ignorance, because it only slows us down and that’s annoying as hell.”
b) SOS Mulheres Beijuzeiras: Continuing our activities supporting traditional communities, we have started this project in the Cordoaria Quilombo, serving 23 families of the Beijuzeira women, who make traditional beiju pancakes, 20 young people and 20 children, with financial support, income generating graffiti workshops for teenagers, black entrepreneurship workshops for women and specialist storytelling for the children, aimed at reclaiming the ancestral history of this Afro-Brazilian community.
“The NGO has never forgotten us. We always analyze in advance which group is really interested in our people, first we checked you out and then we realized that you have a real interest in taking care of our people” Jace the Beijuzeiras President.
c) Letters and Careers: Rede Atados invited us to participate in a pilot project with the Oxiteno company, which has offices in several of Brazil’s capitals and a unit in Camaçari. The project promotes an exchange of letters between volunteers and young people entering the labor market, to develop and encourage reading and writing. Five young people from Viva a Vida represented Bahia in this project, which enabled them to reclaim the habit of writing letters and to exchange experiences of the job market.
“It was very important for me to participate in the project, because I love the act of exchange, and exchanging with someone from another area was extremely enriching! I could say that the best feeling was writing the letter, something I wasn’t used to, and finally adding a face to my letter and being able to exchange it with a person who I identified with so much!” Gabriel, 22 years old, photographer.
"For me, the best feeling in the project was being able to write a letter after a long time, not to mention writing to someone I didn't know. Meeting Bruna was wonderful, waiting for her letter, I was anxious to find out who she was, it was really good to share my aims and goals with her, and to find out about hers too. Meeting new people is always good, right, seeing the world from another perspective and the letter exchange was definitely the best part, thank you to all those involved, I'm super happy to have participated and contributed to this wonderful project”. Thiago, 20 years old, poet and musician.
a) Christmas Baskets: Continuing our activities to support the Cordoaria Quilombola community, this year we donated 300 staple food baskets to families through a partnership with the BEES platform, an app that works with beverage suppliers. Two of our young participants worked with the team, helping to distribute the aid.
“God bless you girl, my grandchildren will be so happy to see so much sausage”, said one of the elderly quilombola women, who is also a Beijuzeira pancake maker.
When we work in emergency activities, we are also mindful of the importance of the long-term and strategic impact of our work. So we were really pleased to see the result this activity had on both Viva a Vida’s board and its corporate partners. Juracy, our President, and Márcia, a member of the Trustee Board, both volunteered to help distribute emergency aid. Márcia is the mother of one of Viva a Vida’s young leaders and a long-standing member of the community, but even she was surprised at the worsening poverty caused by the pandemic: “The house I’ve just been to, there was an old woman there who had nothing to eat, she went crazy when she saw the sausages, I’m going to buy her some biscuits and take them round,” she said.
And at the end of the project Pedro, the head of the BEES project, talked about how Viva a Vida had changed his view of the importance of making the effort to provide equal treatment to excluded and marginalized people: “these might be small things to some people but they really make a difference to others, like you said. This really changed my perspective, thank you for teaching me!”
Governance and Grant Funding:
a) Global Fund For Children (GFC) Executive Coordinators Group: Viva a Vida’s Coordinator Évelin Salles and international Consultant, Cressida Evans, continue to participate in this group, set up by GFC for project coordinators from around the world. Meetings take place once a month and are aimed at strengthening organizations. They provide an opportunity to discuss various issues with partners including institutional demands, assessment tools and the new pandemic circumstances. The group has provided Viva a Vida with an opportunity to think about new methods, in addition to playing a fundamental role in the “spirit” of staying in the fight to keep the institution's mission alive.
b) Grants: During this period we were awarded two very important public grants for the local community. The first came from the Ecumenical Coordination of Service (Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço: CESE), through which Viva a Vida has supported more than 60 people, with political training workshops, income generation, the restoration of Afro-Brazilian history and financial support. The second project is supported by the Department for the Promotion of Equality of the State of Bahia (Secretaria de Promoção da Igualdade do Estado da Bahia: SEPROMI) and will be implemented in 2022. The project will serve the families of the Beijuzeiras in the Quilombo’s Flour House with a wide-ranging project, including financial support and workshops.
Graffiti workshop for young people - quilombo
Telling ancestry stories at the quilombo
Emergency food donations - BEES project
Anti-racism training at the quilombo
Emergency food baskets