Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization

by Associacao Viva a Vida
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Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Empowering Young Brazilians - Art and Mobilization
Young leaders distributing emergency kits
Young leaders distributing emergency kits

Dear Viva a Vida Friends and Supporters,

Happy New Year – here’s hoping that 2021 is full of health and wellbeing for all!

Since our last report, we have dedicated our efforts to completing and publicizing the documentary series we told you about last time. Thanks to your generous donations, as the schools remain closed, we have also focused on social action for the most vulnerable members of our community, who have been particularly hard hit by the health and economic consequences of the pandemic. We are so proud of how hard Viva a Vida’s young leaders have worked to support others!

The documentary series “ASCENDENDO IDEIAS”, or “LIFTING UP IDEAS”, provides a critical analysis of how Brazil’s drug policy has been constructed and its ramifications for the black population, particularly for young people.

It will be launched in 2021 and includes 13 episodes that touch on topics ranging from anthropology to the justice system and discuss the moral concept of drugs, religion, racism, stigma and class, decriminalization and legislation, the media, drug dealing and trafficking, genocide, crime, the police, child labor and harm reduction.

Before the official launch, we have posted the first nine episodes on our social media, and more than one thousand, six hundred people have accessed it!

With your support and with funding from the Global Fund for Children, we will be able to disseminate learning from the documentary to six schools, training teachers and other employees on the theme of Drug Policy. Through film sessions and debates, approximately 100 adults will participate in this training, as well as 100 high school students.

Your work is so good. We’re going to start internal training and finding out about your work is fundamental to this,” said Luana Malheiros, anthropologist and founder member of the Collective Balance Harm Reduction.

“I really liked the teaching from Arts-Educator Marcos Paulo. Wars against Drugs are racial, selective and directly affect the black population”, said Antônio Ferreira, from the State Forum for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor and the Protection of Adolescent Workers in Bahia (FETIPA).

“Congratulations to Associação Viva a Vida. Excellent work. We recommend that everyone watches this and that the material be used to train families and young people,” said Baja Ubirajara– President of Camaçari’s Municipal Council for the Rights of the Child and Adolescent


The Drop of Love (Pingo de Amor) Project, located in Vila de Abrantes, organized an activity to donate toys to the Cordoaria Quilombo Traditional Community, and Viva a Vida took advantage of this opportunity to donate 100 kits of hand sanitizer, sanitary pads, paper tissues and masks, collected and distributed by our young leaders, in partnership with the NGOs Aldeias SOS and PLAN International


We started the year reorganizing our local presence. Due to the pandemic, since March 2020, we have been unable to undertake direct activities, and have been providing services remotely. For this reason, and because of restricted funding, we have decided to close our administrative center and work remotely for the time being.

Documentary Series tackling Drug Policy
Documentary Series tackling Drug Policy
Emergency kits in the Cordoaria Quilombo
Emergency kits in the Cordoaria Quilombo
Community action with Marcos Paulo
Community action with Marcos Paulo
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Young people finish distributing emergency aid
Young people finish distributing emergency aid

Dear Viva a Vida Friends and Supporters,

We hope you all are managing to stay well, safe and sane during these strange times. Thank to your generosity, we are happy to say that, despite everything, we’ve had a very productive quarter, making the most of the new online ‘normal’ by partnering with local and national organizations to broadcast live streaming events and working closely with the local college to ensure students continue to benefit from our services. As you will see, we’ve continued our work using arts to debate human rights and combat child labor, strengthened our work in menstruation support for girls and young women, and successfully completed our online mental health project. An emergency grant from GlobalGiving also enabled us to adapt quickly to the pandemic crisis, setting up various projects in which young Viva a Vida beneficiaries distributed emergency aid (including their own masks and poetry, and produce grown by local family farmers) to some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community.

Just a heads up that we will be launching our Giving Tuesday campaign at the end of November, look out for posts on Facebook and Instagram and e-mail reminders. We know it is more difficult for some people to donate right now, but you can help by reposting our news, telling your friends and family and getting the word out!


Viva a Vida has gone back to its roots and, with some fantastic material, filmed a (so far unnamed) documentary about Drug Policy in Brazil. This is a critical assessment of the policy and its consequences for the black population, particularly young people.

The film will be launched this year and has allowed us to work with some incredible and renowned partners, both individuals and institutions:

  • Trícia Calmon, Coordinator of the Run to a Hug Program from the State of Bahia Department of Justice;
  • Dudu Ribeiro, Historian and Coordinator of the Black Initiative for a New Drugs Policy;
  • Roca Alencar, Professor at the Federal University of Bahia’s Department of Anthropology and Ethnology;
  • Henrique Oliveira, Historian, member of the Bahia Public Security Forum, Alma Preta Journalism and Smoke Buddies.

The script was written by Viva a Vida Coordinator Évelin Salles, with presentations from young poet Thiago and narration and artistic work by Social Scientist and Youth Worker Marcos Paulo. Editing and Production by OKAN Produções.

The documentary has 12 episodes, addresses topics ranging from anthropology to the justice system and talks about the moral concept of drugs, religion, racism, stigma and class, decriminalization and legalization, the media, drug trafficking, genocide, crime, policing, child labor and harm reduction.

Despite the specialized team, the documentary is aimed at the democratization of information. The material will be used for work with young people – in schools, on the streets, etc. The discussions are therefore intercut with poetry, data, accessible language and – one of Viva a Vida’s characteristics - lots of creativity. Unmissable!

During the documentary, Roca Almeida poses the question: “And you say to yourself, these substances were used normally throughout history, so why, at a certain point, did they begin to be proscribed, controlled, prohibited?”

Dudu Ribeiro reminds us who suffers from the current policy: "We have to see that people come before drugs. The war against drugs is against people”.

Watch this space for the link to the finished film!

Find out more about the activities we’ve been able to run thanks to your support:

HUMAN RIGHTS, RACISM AND YOUTH CLASSES: As planned, we continued this work with five videos classes broadcast with support from the local college - 250 young people participated in online classes and 970 young people watched videos on our social networks. The work focuses on debates about racial identity, comparisons between the USA and Brazil, Wakanda, the war on drugs and Arts Education as an instrument for political education.

LET’S DRAW! One product of the classes run by our young assistant Davi was a live streaming event with the artist Oliver Dórea, to talk about the role of art during lockdown. More than 100 people watched the event, it was a great success!

PARTNERS - We have also participated in live streaming events in partnership with fellow NGO Onda Solidaria (Wave of Solidarity) which works in the states of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro and with the Residents Association of Arembepe (a local town). Youth Worker, Marcos Paulo spoke at these events about the importance of art and literature in the political education of young people.


  • We ran a large campaign with events and videos. Sixty people participated in the live streaming events to Combat Child Labor – which included participation from Plan International Project Manager Sara Oliveira.
  • We also launched the video Child Labor and its invisibilities, which contained information about the more subtle forms of exploitation, such as domestic work – this was accessed 124 times.

I DISCOVER MYSELF IN YOU”: Over the last three months we have run this fantastic intervention project for adolescents and young people. The project supported 16 families through online meetings about self-care in times of pandemic. Two psychologists monitored their mental health needs and helped to minimize the effects of the current crisis. Hear what some of the participants have to say about the project:

"It was different from all the other experiences I’ve had - I became aware that my choices are my responsibility and thanks to this I have become what I am now.” Young male participant.

“It motivated me, I think I’m able to think about and organize things better, [I know] how to be responsible, both with myself and with others.” Young male participant.

To close the project, we hosted a large round table debate on the theme of mental health and adolescence, watched by approximately 150 people, many from the municipal health and social care systems, some watched live and some accessed the recording via YouTube. You can watch the debate, which is in Portuguese, at:


BLACK JULY – We are always happy to honor the great black women who are members of Viva a Vida’s beneficiary group, so in July we launched our Black July communication campaign in support of International Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean Women's Day. 370 people participated; you can see some of the posts here:


30 YEARS OF BRAZIL’S CHILD AND ADOLESCENT STATUTE: in July we commemorated the anniversary of this highly significant statute and invited young poet Jonas Gabriel to a discussion called: Child and Adolescent it’s all the same – which provided a racial overview of this theme. The idea was to debate racial issues within the Statue. Eighty people participated in the debate.

MENSTRUATION CAMPAIGN: Plan International and a brand that sells menstrual pads, joined up with Viva a Vida to talk about and distribute educational material and menstrual pads to 600 women in our community. It is so important to talk about this naturally and spontaneously.

PAINTING MASKS & POETRY BOOKLETS: The artists from the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade (#LivingTogetherSustainabilty) group painted more than 400 masks to distribute in the community, as a way of providing protection and distributing love. They also put together a poetry booklet for distribution with basic food baskets and hygiene kits.

CORDOARIA QUILOMBO TRADITIONAL COMMUNITY: Close to our office is this amazing Quilombo Traditional Community. Since the beginning of the crisis, we’ve been in touch with its residents and making efforts to support the lives of those who live there. Over this period we distributed 50 kits (containing non-perishable food, as well as vegetables and greens produced by family farmers, hygiene kits including hand sanitizer, soap and masks) to female heads of households, street market traders and beiju crepe makers.

EMERGENCY AID: In response to the emergency needs in the community, we established partnerships with the company BRASKEM and the NGO Aldeias SOS to provide basic and emergency needs to 175 families. We distributed 100 staple food baskets with the support of the local Child Protection Officers and 75 food vouchers (worth BRL 100.00) for direct beneficiaries, families from the community and women from the Cordoaria Community.

Filming the documentary about Drug Policy
Filming the documentary about Drug Policy
Young beneficiary receives a food voucher
Young beneficiary receives a food voucher
Receiving emergency aid in the quilombo
Receiving emergency aid in the quilombo
Another interview for the drug policy documentary
Another interview for the drug policy documentary
Distributing emergency aid to the community
Distributing emergency aid to the community
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Priscila wearing one of her a hand-painted masks
Priscila wearing one of her a hand-painted masks

Dear Viva a Vida Friends and Supporters,

First of all we hope you are all well and coping, as much as possible, with the global pandemic. Strange times indeed.   As you can imagine, a lot has changed since we last sent out our report, and we’d like to thank you once again for your incredible generosity over this difficult period. We understand that it may be more difficult for some of you to donate right now, but please remember good wishes and kind words are just as welcome!

The world has been taken by surprise, and we’ve all had to reinvent ourselves. Looking back over the last three months, we think our biggest success story has been how we’ve adapted to the pandemic and the new social isolation regime.

Like so many other civil society organizations Viva a Vida’s principal capital is… human. It is with and for humans that we are fighting and engaged in social justice. Normally we work in classrooms, communities, coalitions, with people, always with young people, on the street, involving a great deal of personal contact.

We entered social isolation on 18 March and spent that month thinking about how to re-organize our activities. Our current action plans were scheduled to run up to November 2020, so we gathered our forces and began to think about adapting them to digital content.

Youth workers, young people, the coordination team, consultants and our board all entered into dialogue to consider new strategies. We would like to highlight the strength of our beneficiaries and young assistants, who really began to think about new ways to access the community.

Since these meetings, we’ve been able to implement a series of activities that have gone very well. Viva a Vida has produced virtual content and continued to take Information, Reflection, Learning and Joy to Vila de Abrantes and is now reaching the more young people than ever across the whole state of Bahia!

HUMAN RIGHTS, RACISM AND YOUTH CLASSES: In May, June and July we will offer a sequence of six video classes and six live streaming events to debate these topics. In our first two classes, 359 people watched video classes through our Instagram account and 150 people participated in live debates with Youth Worker Marcos, focusing, among other issues on the antiracist movement and reminding young participants that their BLACK LIVES MATTER!

“I was so impressed with the quality of your content”,

Simone Alves, Educational Coordinator, State College of Vila de Abrantes

FRIDAY POETRY: Fridays have now got added color! 100 people have watched two poetry videos produced by young poets Thiago and Jessé and our Youth Worker Marcos – Brilliant!

“Fantastic! So good! Congratulations to him (Jessé) and to Viva a Vida”

Antonio, President of the State Forum to Eradicate Child Labor – FETIBA, Bahia 

LET’S DRAW! Young Assistant Marcio Davi, supported by young assistant Miqueias, is running live streamed drawing classes! Every Tuesday, new techniques are taught to 80 pupils. Classes will continue until July. Wonderful!

“I was really insecure, but I like doing the live streaming classes (online drawing classes), once again I’m getting over things in myself,”

Marcio Davi, Young Assistant on the #LivingTogetherSustainability project

We have established very important partnerships with PLAN International through a partnership agreement for activities in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to see if we can sign a partnership agreement for the activities we are running collectively”

Sara Mabel, Technical Assistant of PLAN International, Brazil

We have been invited by the Child Protection Office to participate in debates, talking about our work and Human Rights.

“Viva a Vida has always been a great partner. Thank you for being with us during this campaign”

Edilene – Child Protection Office, Camaçari Coast Office

We have managed to strengthen the Vila de Abrantes network through the “Abrantes can count on us” group which we set up, to bring the Camaçari social care network together in activities to support the community (see more below on theCampaign to Combat Sexual Exploitation and Abuse against Children and Adolescents).

We have also joined the local Atados volunteer network from which we have found 10 volunteers to support our communication activities. The idea is to construct a marketing plan and improve our digital media content.

We are living through difficult times of isolation and sadness, and have requested and been approved for emergency aid from Global Fund for Children to address these issues. On 12 June we start the project “I discover myself in you: a caring intervention” in which 2 psychologists will set up self-care groups for our beneficiaries. The project is aimed at supporting young people’s mental health at this time, when they cannot fully access their usual emotional support tools, such as school and projects.

We know these are difficult days. But we are learning, above all, that there are young people, families and communities who cannot get by without our services and this has motivated us to produce and study, to produce again, to renew our energies and move forward.

The strength of our young people, their smiles, comments on social networks, audio messages, the setting up of a network, the visibility that our activities have gained, have all helped us to HAVE HOPE!

Thanks to your generous support, another essential activity that Viva a Vida has been involved in, is the CAMPAIGN TO COMBAT SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE AGAINST CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS – with the strap line: we take this subject seriously.

Through the “Abrantes can count on us” network, set up and coordinated by Viva a Vida, we have participated in a large campaign with some significant partners. Eight public and private institutions have carried out the following activities:

320 people participated in live streaming talks about Sexual Violence: the abuse and exploitation of children and adolescents, in partnership with Plan International, the local Specialized Reference Centre for Social Assistance and the local Program to Eradicate Child Labor;

2,000 facemasks distributed in two extremely vulnerable communities with the highest incidence of COVID-19; Viva a Vida’s young artist Priscila painted the campaign symbol on 100 masks;

“I put in a lot of love, so that everyone who gets one can feel good using it!” Priscila – Young Assistant on hand painting facemasks, one by one

A ‘sound system car’ drove around the community providing information about means of prevention and where to report violations related to sexual exploitation and abuse;

1,000 informative folders were donated to the local Child Projection Office containing information about means of prevention and where to report violations related to sexual exploitation and abuse;

Many thanks once again for your incredible support, enabling this important campaign to take place!

Final note – as we have nearly reached our GlobalGiving fundraising target, over the next few days, you will see that we have raised it to U$ 20,000.00 on the understanding that we will continue supporting at-risk youth at least for the rest of 2020 and hopefully into the years to come.


Community member receiving a mask donated by VAV
Community member receiving a mask donated by VAV
Jesse reciting his poetry
Jesse reciting his poetry
Thiago reciting his poetry
Thiago reciting his poetry
Distributing masks and info in the community
Distributing masks and info in the community
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Alice is now a philosophy student
Alice is now a philosophy student

Dear Viva a Vida Friends and Supporters,

We are so excited to start this year with wonderful news! One of our theater graduates, Alice, a tongue-tied teenager, from a violent and poor neighborhood, with mental health problems and serious family difficulties, has been accepted into a prestigious state university to study philosophy!

“The theater was my refuge... I was always very reserved with everyone, the theater helped me to be less afraid of the world and made more open to getting to know new people and having new experiences”.

Alice loves philosophy, but other people were always discouraging her from applying for the course. A state school student, living in an extremely violent neighborhood and without support from her family, Alice didn’t have any reason to believe she’d be capable of entering a public university.

A sweet girl, who experienced many difficulties throughout her life, Alice came to Viva a Vida through its theater course when she was 14 years old and remained until she was 18. During this period, she acted brilliantly in a number of V2 Theatre Group performances.

In 2019, she returned as a student for drawing and graffiti classes in the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade (#LivingTogetherSustainabilty) project.

“When the theater was in recess (when the project’s funding ended) I knew I needed something to occupy my mind… that was when I started taking the graffiti classes”.

During this period, Alice confronted perhaps the most sensitive moment of her personal life. She comes from a religious family and has suffered a lot of discrimination for her life choices. Art was always a great challenge for Alice, the interpretations, being in someone else’s shoes, the escape, the refuge… this young woman has always had to prove to her family that art has benefited her life, including her health.

Alice suffers from depression and her family has never understood the illness. They have always related her behavior to religious factors. So, throughout her adolescence she was “encouraged” to participate in religious rites to ‘cure’ her illness.

“I didn't want to be a burden… when they began to notice, they had the reaction I expected, they said that I was looking for attention and this really deepened my depression.”

Despite knowing about this illness Alice needed to follow the recommendations of those who were responsible for her. It was at Viva a Vida that Alice was really able to feel safe enough to talk about her feelings. She established a strong relationship with Theatre Teacher Simone Requião and became stronger in her convictions and attitudes.

“I have lost count of the number of times I went to class trying not to cry and it was enough for her (Simone) to look at me and give me a hug and I couldn’t contain my tears.”

A significant breach occurred at the end of 2019, when Alice was physically attacked by her father and brother. With no support from other family members, she had nowhere to live. This was when Viva a Vida’s president stepped in and offered her somewhere temporary to stay, while she sorted out her problems.

“I was desperate, I wanted to end everything, I couldn’t bear to live with them, nor with myself”.

At this point, Alice was already 19 years old and opted to stay away from her family and try to reconstruct her life. She notes that it was the NGO that supported her in finding specialized psychological assistance and ensured that all the apparatus of support was available to her, in line with Viva a Vida’s Child Protection Approach and Policy.

“I went to get help from the NGO and they took me in, I was more frail than ever, and this new family helped me and gave me support in every way and it was through their support that I passed the university entrance examination”.

During this period, Alice, with support from Viva a Vida’s president, applied to join the philosophy degree at the prestigious Bahia State University (UNEB) – one of her dreams. We well remember how her lack of confidence and low self-esteem nearly prevented her from having the courage to fill out the application.

But, on the contrary, with Viva a Vida’s support, Alice is about to start this university philosophy degree. On her own merits, with no special preparatory course, studying at home, in the middle of all the chaos she has suffered, Alice has triumphed! It’s time for something so important for her life – a new beginning…

“When I got the news that I had passed the exam, I was speechless, because I had no hope, I didn’t feel capable of it. But there were people who believed in me and I am so grateful to these people.”

Massive congratulations to Alice, we look forward to seeing her keep growing and learning!

In other news, the end of the old year and the start of the new is a time for evaluation, reflection and planning at Viva a Vida. These are some of the activities your fantastic support has made possible over this period:

  • Giving Tuesday – December 2 is Giving Tuesday and, with support from the GlobalGiving platform and your donations, Viva a Vida ran a campaign to encourage people to help transform the lives of young people in the Vila de Abrantes community. Through social media we raised U$ 885.00, which has been transformed into materials for our graffiti classes, benefiting 20 new students to the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade (#LivingTogetherSustainabilty) project, who will learn drawing and mount an exhibition of their great work.
  • Eradicating Child Labor – Before the year ended we met with the Commission to Eradicate Child Labor to align our agendas for the construction of a municipal plan of activities to prevent and combat child labor. Following this meeting, Viva a Vida formed a partnership with the local Social Work and Specialized Social Work Reference Centers, through which we have made 20 places available exclusively for adolescents identified as child laborers on the new Graffiti and Human Right course.
  • Political Activism - Youth:
    • Viva a Vida’s young people participated in a sensational exchange on December 17 including very rich experiences with the young people from the Zé Ferina Library, an institution that provides training in politics, literature and cinema in the extremely violent Salvador neighborhood of Beiru. Our young people were able to learn about how to construct and maintain a community structure based on the principles of social struggle.
    • On February 12, the young people also got to know the activist group Reaja ou Será Morto (React or Be Killed) which is made up of activists fighting against the genocide of the black population. The movement has been active for 10 years and pushes back against the racism perpetuated by the Brazilian state. “I was so impressed with the Group REAJA, it was so good to see how they have resisted alone and continue to resist.” said Lucas a 21-year-old Viva a Vida assistant.
  • Evaluation and Reflection:
    • Evaluation with our young assistances is full of surprises and learning. Having young people supporting the management of the NGO is not for everyone and we are so proud to have them at the “command” of this social transformation machine. We met in December to evaluate this process and traced our time line, re-examining targets and celebrating achievements! The assistants identified their learning over this period; it was great to see how the training is working for them. Some examples of learning include: learning how to deal with people; learning how to work in a team; learning how to seek one’s rights; learning how to contribute to other people’s lives, even if they’re different from ours; learning to be concerned about the growth and learning of others – great work team!
    • Evaluation of the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade beneficiaries: This group began in June and has brought so much pleasure to everyone: art exhibitions, arts events, great graffiti and poetry. Lives transformed and transforming. On 17 February we finalized the first stage of the project with an evaluation session.
    • Team: the year began on January 8 with evaluation and reflection mediated by Juracy Bahia, a student of economy and third sector management, youth worker and one of Viva a Vida’s founders. The day was full of satisfaction at the great results achieved in 2019.
  • Volunteering: on January 8 we received a team from a large sports brand (we are not able to divulge its name yet), with the promise of a solid volunteer partnership – fingers crossed!!
  • Awards: Another award! We are extremely happy to have been one of three institutions chosen out of 37 social organizations around Brazil for the Ideal Social Volunteer Advisory Award. In 2020, we will receive extremely significant professional Fundraising training from the agency; our first meeting is booked for 23 March – onwards and upwards!
  • Human and Socio-environmental Rights, Racism and Violence Workshops: One more year of partnership with the State College of Vila de Abrantes. For over five years, Viva a Vida has provided Human and Socio-environmental Rights, Racism and Violence Workshops as part of the school’s annual calendar and this year the young people from the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade project will support this work. On February 3 we attended Teachers’ Planning Day at the college to begin organizing these activities.
  • Integration: Viva a Vida’s Integration Day is our symbolic first day of the year following the summer holidays, when we look at our results and targets and plan the year. To help us begin with power and happiness, we invited Alberto Paim to run an clown workshop on February 6, it was amazing. 2020 is starting well!
  • Planning: February was the month to plan classes that start in March:
    • Drawing classes with long term students including graffiti and political training – 10 students;
    • Graffiti and political awareness training for adolescent child laborers – 20 students;
    • Human and Socio-environmental Rights, Racism and Violence Workshops for more than 200 high school students.
Integration - starting the year in step!
Integration - starting the year in step!
Meeting of our graffiti students
Meeting of our graffiti students
Peer educator planning meeting
Peer educator planning meeting
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Simone - Education Coordinator at the high school
Simone - Education Coordinator at the high school

Dear Viva a Vida Friends and Supporters!

Today we’d like to tell you about an amazing woman, a valued partner at the local high school, whose presence, enthusiasm and energy makes so much difference, lighting up the future for our young participants. 

“There is a difference in the young people who participate in [Viva a Vida]. Dialogue with them always comes through this lens of coexistence and awareness of their role in transformation.  Young people need to occupy this space.  The arts give them this potential and this creative energy”.

 Education cannot be limited to the four walls of the classroom.  It needs to make connections with its surroundings.  Education is life itself and must be linked to it”.

This story has a slightly different format.  In fact, this wasn’t our plan, but when we interviewed the Education Coordinator at CEVA (as we call the high school), we discovered another talent… one for narrative, someone who can move and enchant us.  That’s why we are going to transcribe what Simone Alves so affectionately shared with us.  This story brings together three noteworthy aspects for our work: EDUCATION, VIVA A VIDA and THE POWER OF BLACK WOMEN.

Simone Alves is one of those women who captivate you at first sight, she is black, with a strong but sweet voice, wears high heels, is a veritable work machine!  CEVA, a Viva a Vida partner for more than 5 years, has received, more than that, welcomed our ideology and projects.  The Director Adriano Souza, with Vice-Directors Sandra Barbosa and Talma Paz, have always granted us respect and provided unequal partnership, which needs to be acknowledged.

But we have chosen to talk about Simone for a number of reasons, the main one being that we are commemorating Black Consciousness Month right now, and, at the same time, constructing a new project aimed at girls and women. So we felt the need to focus on her story, which encourages us, confirming the challenges we face in Vila de Abrantes, but also demonstrating her huge capacity to overcome them.  She is an inspiring example for both our vision and the future of our young participants.

She has worked in education for more than 20 years, beginning her experience in a municipal school in the neighborhood of Saramandaia (an extremely vulnerable area in Salvador), where she was invited to work as a teacher in a private school and three years later as the Education Coordinator.  During her career, she has also worked as an education consultant in companies (the publishing market), during which she got to know the whole of Brazil.

“[on being a teacher and moving around Brazil as a consultant]… A challenge for a woman and a black one too, to work in teacher training in such different places and at the same time covering countless miles alone.  But for an ideal!”

“Which made me think I could help people.  And public education is the place for this!  What motivated me at the time was training teachers and knowing that, one way or another, that training would reach the students: through methodological innovations and changes to attitudes!”

Simone got the job at CEVA by passing a public examination, but she was afraid of going into a public school and changing its principals about quality education.

“My educational references are founded on the ideas of Paulo Freire (popular and political education) and Anísio Teixeira (education is not a privilege for the elite).  For this reason, I saw the human potential, that’s why I gradually succumbed to their ideals, entered the public service and gained the title of civil servant.  I am at the public’s service.  That’s why I chose it!”

“Every day I dream of seeing public schools as the only reference centers for quality education”.

Working in Brazil’s public education network, specifically in Vila de Abrantes, is a challenge with many faces: professional team training, institutional racism, infrastructure, violence in the community and many others.

“The challenges are daily and constant: the first is to push for an epistemological examination of education in our times!  Study and research have to be constants in my teacher training activities.  To coordinate a team of education professionals is to care about training, to keep the teaching staff up to date and to commit to this ‘choice’.”

Racism is engrained when they don’t believe in your potential. In this arena, a black woman should be providing other services.  I have compartmentalized every minute of my work.  As an educator I am preoccupied with the coordination of teachers and in thinking about education.  I point this out every time I’m expected to do something else.  It’s not that I can’t perform other tasks. But racism knows exactly where, to which skin color, it seeks to impose its desires.  I am careful in this compartmentalization.  I remain vigilant and attentive the whole time. Sexism comes out and presents itself at various moments.  I combat this, either by being more assertive or more loving, warning people delicately and subtly.”

At the high school, Viva a Vida works with about 600 students per year through workshops in Human and Socio-environmental Rights for adolescents from 14 to 17 years old, in the first year of high school, using arts-education as a tool to discuss urban violence, racism and drug abuse.  The partnership between our NGO and the school is essential in order to have an impact on these young people’s life projects.  CEVA understands the role played by our activities, supports us in all our actions and recognizes our activities in the community.

“The search for partners is due to the management team’s belief in the power of collaboration.  Joining forces is the first pillar for us to gain ground.  Education cannot be limited to the four walls of the classroom.  It needs to make connections with its surroundings.  Education is life itself and must be linked to it”.

We note that we have seen a number of other partnerships since the beginning of the 2019 academic year, one highlight being the psychology center, which powerfully addresses the theme of suicide, and in many meetings and debates about racism and the empowerment of the black population.

“I have been at CEVA since January. I participated in registration.  And at that moment I saw a new reality: leaving the publishing space, with its air-conditioning and all its technological and luxurious apparatus, to occupy a space that isn’t so comfortable, but contains people who will conquer the spaces they desire very quickly.  They will be able to choose!”

At Viva a Vida, we believe in the same ideas as Simone, who certainly represents the ideas of the high school.

“I chose here! To emancipate people and help this project.  It’s an ideal!  To provide a public school of quality (if not in its physical space, in its human and educational differential).

To emancipate people is embedded within our institutional mission, to teach adolescents and young people the road to strength and empowerment.  Where they can make assertive choices… and this begins in the school arena… without a doubt!

“For me a quality school is a school which understands its historical setting.  Which respects diversity, which recognizes what it means to learn, which makes connections with life.  Which gives voice to students, which points out the pathways, which is joyful and fun, because learning is about joy.  Which goes beyond education: which emancipates!”

“My work is making this public school the best: a reference center!  This depends on me too.  I am involved in this! Since I was born, I have chosen teaching.  Education is dedication, research, study and commitment to change! I believe in this.”

Let’s hear what she specifically has to say about Education, Viva a Vida and Racism, which demonstrates how we are on the same path as our valued colleagues at the high school, fighting together for a brilliant future!


“Education has always moved me and seeing people fulfilling their dreams and overcoming barriers pleases and satisfies me.  I am a product of this history!  Education also happens with political responsibility and intentionality.”


Viva a  Vida has great relevance to our work and a direct impact.  Political awareness, respect and critical awareness are elements that the young people who are both there and here at CEVA explicitly demonstrate. There is a difference in the young people who participate in [Viva a Vida]. Dialogue with them always comes through this lens of coexistence and awareness of their role in transformation.  Young people need to occupy this space.  The arts give them this potential and creative energy.”


“As a black woman, I see institutional racism the whole time.  I see it when they come to find someone from the management team and I’m there, and they ask me the same question, even when I introduce myself as the Coordinator. Racism is perverse and it does not accept a black woman in a role like this!”

Congratulations on your great work, Simone! Let’s carry on in this struggle together, always believing in the transformative power of education and art, so that young people can overcome the vulnerabilities imposed on them by society.

These spring months have been full of poetry, graffiti and music, with young artists and leaders involved in exhibitions, recitals and much more!  Find out what your generosity has supported since the end of August:

  • III NIGHT CLASS CONGRESS/CEVA – Our young poet, Thiago Almir participated in the III Congress for Night Class Students at the State College of Vila de Abrantes, which had the theme: movements of resistance and representativeness in power arenas; Barbara Carine led the roundtable dialogue. Viva poetry as an instrument of resistance!
  • MUSIC AND POETRY EVENING – Mission provided is mission accomplished. The young people from the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidade(LivingTogetherSustainability) project held their first Music and Poetry Event on 21 September at our community center.  It was an open mic event for other artists from the community. “I felt really comfortable, I felt at home, I really liked the artistic performances and the way everyone is welcome", said one of the young poets.
  • On 30 September, Viva a Vida participated in another SUPPORT THE FUNDS training session run by the Boticario Institute in partnership with Camaçari’s Municipal Child and Adolescent Rights Council.
  • JACA ARTS EVENT – JACA or the Group of Young Activists from Cajazeiras, celebrated its 15th anniversary of community arts and activism.  We believe this to be the biggest community arts event in the city and it was a fantastic demonstration of resistance and courage!  The #VivaJuntosSustentabilidadegroup was honored to participate in the event on 19 October - a hugely important exchange of experiences for their training.
  • Viva a Vida’s young leader Priscila Assunção attended a meeting of Camaçari’s Municipal Child and Adolescent Rights Council as part of our agenda of activities for young people to find out about and develop public oversight activities and activism.
  • CIDADE DO SABER EXHIBITION – On 31 October the Camaçari’s Municipal Plan for Child and Adolescent Rights was presented at the Cidade do Saber Exhibition Center. This was a great event bringing together representatives of those working with children and adolescents in the municipality.  Viva a Vida was present, exhibiting the #VivaJuntosproject graffiti panels and photographs. Visiting participants admired the work and discussed their Human Rights themes with our young artists. Viva to the organizations that fight so hard to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents.
  • On 6 November the final SUPPORT THE FUNDS meeting was held to present projects. This was to mark the culmination of four monthly training meetings mediated by Andréa Moreira from the Yaba Consultancy in Sustainable Development and Social Investment.  Viva a Vida’s contributed in the form of political poetry recited by young poet Jesse Jasal and Youth Worker Marcos Paulo.
  •  Our 2nd MUSIC AND POETRY EVENINGwasheld on at Viva a Vida on 9 November, including a rap battle, a violin performance, other music and lots of poetry!
  • Artist Rubens Chagas brightened up our day! The young artists and leaders from the #VivaJuntosSustentabilidadeproject were privileged to receive Rubens and hear his thoughts about drawing and graffiti, filling the center with energy and color!


Young artists exhibition - Cidade do Saber
Young artists exhibition - Cidade do Saber
Music and Poetry Event run by our young poets
Music and Poetry Event run by our young poets
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Organization Information

Associacao Viva a Vida

Location: Camacari, Bahia - Brazil
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Cressida Evans
Camacari, Bahia Brazil
$16,322 raised of $20,000 goal
347 donations
$3,678 to go
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