Project #1810

Prevent Youth Involvement in Drug Trafficking

by CEMINA (Com., Edu. and Info. and Adaptation)
cosmic fruit mandala
cosmic fruit mandala

Two volunteers, Guna Sauline and Hernan Almiron have inicitiate a new class that focus on transforming healthy food in artistic shapes. The title of the class is Dynamic Art  and the vision is to estimulate children to do artistic shapes with their bodies, with healthy food and with paintings. 

Julio Otoni is like most low income communities in Rio de Janeiro. Children eat unhealty  processed food flavored and colored artificially.  The transition is not easy and requires  creativity to capture children's attention and interest.  Thanks to this project this is happening and children are eating healthier and also learning  how to express themselves using their bodies and also painting.  Recently in one of the classes they have painted their souls. 

This class will last until the end of the year and is a good exemple of an activity that has a lot of potential to improve children's wellbeing.  It could be expanded to more children if donnations can support it. They money is need to buy the material.  It is a wonderful initiative that can help change unhealty food patterns, so critical to improve the current state of health of children at Julio Otoni and around the world. 

Drawing Souls
Drawing Souls
Freshly made snacks
Freshly made snacks
discovering sounds and lyrics from Latin America
discovering sounds and lyrics from Latin America

The highlight of 2013 was an increasing involvement of volunteers, both foreigners and nationals.  Rio de Janeiro, which is the next two years will host two big sport events, World Cup ( 2014) and Olympics ( 2016) is attracting people from around of the world.  The city is peculiar. It is beautiful, has interesting touristic infrastructure and at the same time, is a sample of social disparities and lack of care for the abundant nature in which the city is embedded.  Responsible travel is a trend all over the world. People, especially young people, want to enjoy the city and at the same time contribute with something that adds value to the place they are visiting.   The Community Center Julio Otoni has embraced  these opportunities. Through the Hostel Casa 579, the project is able to receive volunteers and organize the contributions that they can offer for children and the community.

Volunteers were connected to Julio Otoni since its inception in 2005, this last year the program has received a new injection of enthusiasm and commitment.  Today the volunteer program has a director that coordinates the demand and the planning alocation of these human resources.  Believe it or not, it is quite challenging to find ways in which people can contribute despite  their country of origin and the language that they speak.

Three volunteers deserve our special attention. Rachel Marquez, from the US;  Niger Soares, from Rio de Janeiro and Natalia Mercado from Argentina. Together with many other volunteers they totally revitalized the center, engaging parents, creating new activities, organizing events, theater plays, outside promenades for the children. The result of this engagement was the final party of the year where children, parents, friends, foreigners and volunteers clearly showed in their faces the satisfaction for the real benefit created.

It is important to say that the project that host 50 children every single day runs on very little money. The main resource we have are people and their motivations to care for the children and improve the environments in which they live. 

The story of the year is the childrens choir that filled with light and charm  every single event, connecting all of us to beauty and to our hearts.  They learned music from the Andean region, they got used to the new rythms of Latin America helping them to understand that besides being Cariocas ( name given to people born in Rio) and Brazilians, they belong to a continent that is Latin America.

Our blog, and our facebook page/ juliootoni have photos and more highlights of this very simple and positive story. We end here manifesting our gratefulness to our donor and friends, many of them anonymous. They believe on the power of positive energy in making the world a better place for all of us. 

Enjoyng the Rythms with Drums
Enjoyng the Rythms with Drums
Visiting Exhibition in Favela Mare
Visiting Exhibition in Favela Mare


performance of Jobatucanto
performance of Jobatucanto

Julio Otoni community Center exist since 2006.  Hundreds of Children of the community have been benefitted by having this place as their home. There they play, they sing, they learn, they dance. The main resource on which the project counts are the volunteers. They can contribute at the center for a minimun of two week and a maximun of months or even years.  During the last 4  years Julio Otoni became the main social responsibility project of a hostel, Casa579, The founder of Casa 579 was one of the first volunteers at Julio Otoni Community Center. Today, Casa 579 hosts foreign volunteers that will work at Julio Otoni. They also help coordinate the work of these volunteers.  Besides offering to the children classes, the volunteers also promote special fundraisers, campaigns in the community , festivals.

The last festival took place last July, during the winter holiday, the volunteers organize with JO children “Jobatucanto,” as the group is affectionately known, is an amalgamation of the words “Jo” – for “Julio Otoni,” “batu”, for “batucada,” a sub-style of samba that includes African-influenced percussion, and “canto,” referring to the vocal aspect of the group. The group was formed in October 2011 when Profesora Vânia from Minas Gerais first started volunteering at the center. The kids learned Brazilian and African rhythms until Profesora Natalia, from Argentina, joined in July 2012 and expanded their repertoire. Jobatucanto did the music for Cinderella, the kids’ musical theater performance earlier this year. The show  featured songs from Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay. It was a wonderful dive for children into our Latin America Soul.  


Field Trip to SESC
Field Trip to SESC

The past few months have been packed! In April, the children performed "Cinderella in the Favela", a music and theater production. The play was written, produced, and directed by the English teaching volunteers, and was a collaboration between the weekly music and break dance classes. Both the morning and afternoon terms were able to participate, showcasing their English skills, dance moves and musical talent in an amazing performance that opened for two nights. The first show was held in the community center itself for the family and friends of the kids and the second was held at Casa 579, a neighboring bed & breakfast where many of the Julio Otoni volunteers live. Both events were very well attended and equally fun for the kids and the audience alike! Read more and see pictures about the performance here. 

A new wave of volunteers from all over the world, including Mexico, Argentina, France, Switzerland, Brazil and the United States arrived at the center, bringing a diversity of activities and classes. Recreational games, photography, and emotional intelligence classes have joined the pre-existing English classes, music classes, and study hall. Due to the success of the Cinderella production, these current volunteers hope to put on another musical showcase next month.

And most recently a group of children went on a field trip to see a theater production, “Pequena coleção de todas as coisas” (“A Little Collection of Everything”) at Espacinho SESC, a socially conscious organization that puts on cultural events and is involved in health, sports, and tourism programs.

The Julio Otoni Center and all the enriching activities provided to the children there are made possible by the hard working local staff members and the international volunteers that bring their respective talents to teach to the children. The staff and volunteers need your help to continue doing their invaluable work. No donation is too small, and every contribution helps to keep this center running as a positive force in an at-risk community. Thank you again, and please, spread the word about this project!

Cinderella Theatre Production!
Cinderella Theatre Production!


Volunteer with two girls doing mosaic
Volunteer with two girls doing mosaic

Volunteers are one of the driving forces of Julio Otoni project. Since its inception in 2006, volunteers from all over the world have had a chance to experiencing the work with the children, the challenges of sustaining a project in a Favela in Rio, the joy of seeing the children participating and evolving through the activities. We continue to welcome volunteers especially the ones that are able to engage for a long stay. In our page http// , it is possible to find the current activities and the ways to engage. Here we include the testimonies of the two volunteers that have experienced Julio Otoni. Teresa Keohane from the UK is volunteering with Julio Otoni since her arrival in Brazil in 2006. Today Teresa helps recruiting volunteers to the project. Listen what she says: "Volunteering at the Julio Otoni Project was an amazing and thoroughly rewarding experience. The children at the project are so eager to learn and get the most out of the activities offered and you really feel that by being there you are making a difference. It is very rewarding to be able to offer something to these children and give them the chance to participate in activities and experiences that they otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to be part of, and interact with people they normally wouldn't come into contact with. This all helps to broaden their horizons and perhaps makes a difference to their future and the choices they make in it. Also, as a volunteer I found that the experience helped me grow on a personal level as you get the chance to learn and challenge yourself in ways that you would not normally do. The Julio Otoni Project is a unique volunteering opportunity in Rio - aside from being an amazing experience, the project is well organised and you feel that your skills or desire to help are being put to a good use. Also, it is one of the few projects in Rio where volunteers are not charged a fee to participate in the project which helps make it more accessible for potential volunteers." Laure Huys from France spent two months volunteering at Julio Otoni, May and June of 2012. Here is what she says. "I had an amazingly great and rich experience teaching at the Centro comunitario Julio Otoni. What I appreciated is that I got there from one day to the other and I was free to teach whatever I wanted. I decided to teach arts and crafts based on recycled material to educate and sensitize the kids to sustainable development and to motivate their creativity with what they have. So, I came twice a week to teach and spend some time with the kids. Thanks to this I learnt portugues very quickly and I got to know a lot about how people live in favelas, how brasilians are in a very creative and joyful atmosphere. For sure, I would recommend anyone to have the same experience and for sure, I would do it again!" Would you like to recommend Julio Otoni for a volunteer that comes to Rio? Get in contact:


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Organization Information

CEMINA (Com., Edu. and Info. and Adaptation)

Location: Rio de Janeiro, RJ - Brazil
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Thais Corral
General Coordinator
Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil
$47,712 raised of $60,000 goal
592 donations
$12,288 to go
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