...but it takes only one child to change the village!
Today I am going to tell you the story of a changemaker. Rael is a young man who became a reference in his community after taking action by engaging other people towards the realization of his dream. He was born in Campina de São Benedito, a little community in the state of Amapá, in the Brazilian Amazon forest.
Rael was only 16 when he became a volunteer at our library project after being part of an event in which he was introduced to the values of the organization and trained to be a reading mediator. In 2011, even though he and the other volunteers were very dedicated to the project, the school where the library took place by the time closed due to the lack of teachers and the activities had to cease. Rael was not happy about that and, after a visit from the Vaga Lume team, he realized that the problem was the people in the community did not feel the library was theirs and he decided to do something.
In order to keep the project alive, Rael convinced 42 people to help him to organize and build a room, a little house to keep the books. However, before the actual construction, they had to organize parties, ask people from other communities for help and material as well as take other initiatives - together - to raise money. Little did he know that, during this process, the people would become aware of their power as a group and put their effort together for the common interest, even beyond his proposal. As a result, not only the library would have its own premises, but they were also able to bring new teachers to the community and reactivate the abandoned school.
For us, when the community takes the initiative of managing the library itself and the people see it as their own, not just borrowed books from someone else, Vaga Lume is closer to reaching its goals. The action of building the premises, which were inaugurated in 2013 during a Vaga Lume expedition to Macapá, is evidence that the people there are taking responsibility for the library. For that reason, we are very proud to inform you that initiatives like Rael´s give our work meaning. With your support, we are able to give young people the opportunity to become active, engage in their communities and change the reality they live in. Together, we empower amazon children by showing them other cultures and broadening their minds with books.
Nowadays, the people of Campina de São Benedito are proud to say they are related to Rael and we are proud to say we have motivated him. Aren´t you also proud? Well, you should be…
Other stories and news are available at www.vagalume.org.br/english.
Feel free to drop us a line!
Vaga Lume Team
Vaga Lume invites you to get to know the amazing tales of Amazonian rural communities that have African traditions.
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 (www.vagalume.org.br/english) 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
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 (www.vagalume.org.br/english) and subscribe to our newsletter!
Please feel free to contact us to share your thoughts and questions!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.
We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.
Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.Start a Fundraiser