We reached Salvador de Bahia two weeks ago and received a warm welcome. We found it very easy to settle in thanks to Salvador’s pleasant atmosphere and the wonderful volunteers at ICBIE.
We have already visited the four barrios (boroughs) that we will be working in: Uruguai, Ribeira, Lobato, and Massaranduba. In each barrio we have been given the space to develop our project with the collaboration of other independent organizations and groups that help local communities, such as Filhos Do Sol Nascente, ABEAC (Associação Beneficente Educação Arte e Cidadania), AMAR (Amigos de Adolescentes em Situação do Risco), and GRUCON (Grupo de União e Consciência Negra).
Entering these areas wouldn’t have been possible without the help and guidance of Julio, a local graffiti artist who has collaborated with ICBIE from the very beginning. He is known in these areas and people have learnt to trust him over time, therefore they were more open to let us in as well. We also received great support from Tubarao, a Brazilian friend and capoeira instructor we know from Rome. He spent a lot of time brainstorming with us back in Italy and has understood our project to the extent where he can introduce it on our behalf to the locals when we get lost in translation. To Julio and Tubarao - muito obrigada!
Our first impressions, thoughts and facts -
URUGUAI: The association Filhos Do Sol Nascente is working on improving the local community’s life by offering children after-school activities and tutoring. Alongside Mestre Pedro, the founder of the association, his wife Cristiane has formed the Grupo de Mulheres, which is a group of women volunteers who devote their time to help run the association and provide assistance and care for the children.
We presented our project to them and they gave us a very positive response. It is likely that the participants from this barrio will be children ranging from ages 10 to15. We found the actual building structure very inspiring as it just so happens to be a broken down, gutted, and roofless old cinema. The space will offer a great ground for the various workshops of theatre and film. We like the idea that an old cinema still has the potential to tell, create, and share stories.
RIBEIRA: The association that works in this barrio is ABEAC. It is a well-established and known association run by a group of teachers under the guidance of Fernanda, a strong woman with a lot knowledge on how things work around here. Talking to her was useful and constructive as she has vast experience in this field. ABEAC offers similar activities as Filhos Do Sol Nascente, but is better equipped. In fact they have a computer room (with about 8 computers), a tiny room which serves as a library (although it is yet to be catalogued and shelved), a canteen, and an outdoor area that functions as a football pitch and a theatre. Once again a great location, also thanks to the presence of the theatre. Probably the participants are going to be both children and adolescents. Thanks to the experience of the staff and this association’s atmosphere, we feel the project will take off easily and in the right direction.
LOBATO:The association AMAR, run by Matilde, has recently moved to this area. Matilde told us they were forced to move due to threats they received by drug dealers in their previous location. Here in Salvador no one seems to like any association that educates people, teaching them their rights and giving them a chance to change things. It seems to be convenient for the government and big businesses to keep people uneducated, as this way there is no interference with their plans and no one to go against them with his/her knowledge and opinion.
AMAR’s work is very interesting as it helps adolescents who live in dangerous situations, by educating them through after-school tutoring and creative workshops. They are currently offering a “masked theatre” course. Because the children involved might have difficulty in recounting their stories, a mask makes it easier for them to express themselves openly and with less hesitation. We were offered to work with their drama teacher while developing our project and agreed to do so. This approach will make it easier for us to interact with the adolescents and gain a better understanding of their situation.
MASSARANDUBA: This barrio has the worst living conditions we have witnessed since our arrival. It includes an area known as Alagados. People live in hut constructions made out of a type of wood called “massaranduba”, hence the name, that are built on stilts fixed inside dirty seawater, due to the lack of a proper drainage system.
The difference between our work in this barrio and the other three, is that here we are recruiting participants from the streets. There is an association called GRUCON (Grupo de União e Consciência Negra) which owns an atelier here and has allowed us to use it. We have spoken to a couple of families who live in this area and they have shown great interest in taking part in the project. In fact, we met our first participants in this barrio and their curiosity and enthusiasm made us want to start the project as soon as possible.
The fact that the project/course is free to attend and that materials are going to be provided by us was definitely an encouragement. We would therefore like to take this opportunity to THANK OUR SUPPORTERS IN HELPING US PROVIDE THE MATERIALS TO HELP RUN THE PROJECT.
So far we have bought disposable cameras, books, Mini-DV tapes, DVDs, books, pencils, colors, notebooks, folders, paints, colored paper, and much more.
We will try to post at least one blog entry per week, so do check up on updates and please give us feedback – we would really like to know what you think about our work and if you have any thoughts or advices, don’t hesitate in writing to us:
We are planning on creating a website very soon and their will be a place for you to comment on our posts.
Tess & Sabika