The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created 70 years ago to promote peace, democracy and strengthen the common rights to all peoples and Nations.
In honor of the anniversary of this Declaration, the European Union Delegation in Brazil created the European Union Human Rights Award, aiming at identifying projects that work in the promotion of human rights. And, it is with great joy that we announce that Vaga Lume has received this award!
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone has the right to education” which means that everyone has the right to access education. Vaga Lume acts guaranteeing learning opportunities that will allow children, in contact with our community libraries, to have a fairer education later – starting from the base, during the early childhood years, through literacy and reading incentive. Receiving this recognition is another way to highlight our beliefs: access to reading though books contributes to the formation of a more conscious society able to fight to guarantee their rights.
As part of the award, Vaga Lume will participate in an event in Brussels, Belgium, that will bring together government officials and civil society related to activities in the field of human rights and education. Stay tuned to hear the news of this journey.
Thank you for joining us in this cause, this is also your prize!
Translator: Luana Santos
In November, over the course of two weeks we visited 14communities in the municipalities of Santarém and Oriximiná in the state of Pará, just bordering the neighbouring state of Amazonas. These visits, by providing face-to-face contact and thus strengthening bonds between Vaga Lume and the communities, make up an essential part of the Expedition Program. In the communities of Atodi (in the municipality of Santarém) and Nossa Senhora da Piedade (Oriximiná), we held courses with the participation of the local community, training local volunteers and making preparations to set up a Vaga Lume library. In the other 12communities, we visited the already established libraries, bringing with us fresh stocks of new books. We engaged in games with the children and spoke to the community leaders about how the library is functioning, and how else Vaga Lume can help to promote a love of reading in the community.
Upon arrival at these communities, it was fantastic to see the enthusiasm with which the children embraced the new boxes of books. They loved not only to read them, but also to show them to their friends and read them aloud to each other. It was clear that the library was not merely a facility for the community to use, but rather an integrated part of the community itself. The communities themselves took ownership of the libraries and made them their own. As a result, the libraries possessed an atmosphere of warmth, comfort and liveliness.
It is clear that the libraries tie together communities, and that the community identity brings each library its own unique character. It was a pleasure to see the creativity with which the children had decorated their reading spaces. A place of calm, reflection and inspiration had been cultivated out of just a simple room. The two weeks we spent with these communities provided just a glimpse into the true benefit that these libraries bring not only to the children, but to everyone involved.
In October we reinaugurated the headquarters of the Vaga Lume José Carmelo Mota Jr Library in the Céu community in Ilha do Marajó, located in the State of Pará. With the help of all the children in the community, we transformed a simple reading space into a magical place full of stories.
This transformation came to be thanks to the partnership between Vaga Lume and ImaginaC - a project that creates a connection between children and public spaces through art.
"We need to listen to children, and at the same time relearn how to be a child: they have the power of transformation. Children are small in size, but giants in attitude who are able to humanize relations and places in which they live.” -- Nayana Brettas, founder of the ImaginaC project.
The children of the Céu community did exactly this: through paintings and decorations on the walls, they turned the library into a place full of meaning and dreams.
The most brilliant thing was that the children participated in the entire production process, from inventing the fantastic creatures to replicating them on the walls by painting them in bright colors. Each drawing has a special meaning and conveys precisely what is inside each child’s imagination.
What impressed us was not only how the library was just like the community but also how wonderful the teamwork was. All the children were engaged and the imagination of one child connected to that of another child to turn their dream into a reality! Now the library has become a point of reference in the region and reading mediations and other cultural activities happen there every day.
One of the cornerstones of our Expedition Program is the preservation of the community’s memories and traditional knowledge. Through workshops, the local residents create books in which they tell their own stories. The most remarkable part of this is that all of these books are handmade.
The program begins with storytelling, when the storytellers share their memories, local traditions and tales for everybody to hear. Normally, these storytellers are older people with vast knowledge of local history and culture. After the storytelling is done, the volunteers choose one person to make a written record so they can start producing a handmade book with text and drawings.
The creation and distribution of these books is very important, since they not only strengthen the origins and history of the community, but they also contribute to the appreciation of the local culture of each people. Vaga Lume frequently promotes workshops and training sessions in order to encourage the production of these books.
Last month we held a number of workshops and handmade book releases. One of them was in the community of Graça de Deus, in Mirinzal, in the state of Maranhão. Young volunteers wrote a book: “The Midwife of Graça de Deus”, which tells the story of Dona Leoci, an eighty-year-old woman who is the oldest midwife of the region.
In the urban area of Ponte Alta do Tocantins, in the state of Tocantins, we held the release of the book “The Rabeca* of Mr. Miudo”, which tells the story of Mr. Miudo, a famous local storyteller and musician. In addition, in Pacaraima, in the state of Roraima, the indigenous community released some handmade books telling local stories in their native language.
*Rabeca is an instrument used most commonly in Brazilian forró music.
Last month we had the pleasure of inaugurating two new communitarian libraries. One of them was in the community of Bela Conquista, Tefé, in the state of Amazonas. The other one was in the community of Céu, in Soure, in the state of Pará.
Bela Conquista’s library was named Maria Eunice de Lime Communitarian Library. The community took the initiative to build the library under the leadership of a local teacher. Together, they organized and built each part of the headquarter! Their dedication in every detail, as in the decoration, the books’ organization, in the painting are only some indications of how the community was committed to this achievement.
Building a new library, with its own premises, was a gain for everybody since it is now located in a more accessible space. Besides, having such a space contributes to make reading workshops even more active and make more than 600 books be explored by anyone at any time.
The second inaugurated library was in the community of Céu, named José Carmelo Mota Jr. Library. Thanks to the support of traders, partners, community leaders and teachers from the local school, which was formerly the headquarter of the community’s library, the residents gave life to the new space, where a special painting is coming soon. The inauguration ceremony, attended by the Vaga Lume team from São Paulo, had several activities and reading mediations going on.
The autonomy and accessibility that come with the construction of a community's Vaga Lume library of their own are two fundamental factors for the strengthening of the project. These spaces often become reference for the whole community, by becoming meeting points for the accomplishment of diverse cultural activities and, of course, a lot of reading mediations.
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