- By diana Nijboer
- In Mais Caminhos and the communities in Rio de Janeiro
- Comments None
Time flies. It’s time for the last update for 2015. 2015 has been a good ride for Mais Caminhos. We have had our challenges and we can look back on lots of achievements. December sees the arrival of the summer season and the start of the holiday season, with schools closing until after Carnival. The arrival of the New Year might be celebrated on 31st December, but here you could say that it really starts after Carnival. Well, not for us at Mais Caminhos – but first we will take a look back at 2015.
Read all about the progress of our programmes, the students in the programmes and our volunteers: they all have achieved incredible results. We are very proud of them.
Thank you for all your help and support – thanks to you we have been able to get one step closer to making our students’ dreams come true.
Mais Caminhos On-Site Educational Programme
To fulfil a dream a lot of effort is involved. The purpose of our programme is to train the children in essential social and life skills in combination with academic skills such as learning English in a loving, caring, respectful and non-discriminatory environment. These favela children are well trained in taking care of younger siblings. Girls as young as 8 years old are often primary caregivers for their younger or baby siblings. Often they are raised in tough environments, with the need to show subservience and obedience and to be street smart. Quite often there is not a lot of love shown at home. A space to be childlike is more often absent than present. The parents have often not been educated, or have only attended a couple of years of elementary school. They themselves have not gained essential social and life skills, let alone academic skills. We show a lot of love to the children and spend a substantial amount of time in th Mais Caminhos programme on social and life skills, and we see improvements on a daily basis.
We started with a rather small group of children who displayed some challenging social behaviours. To increase the size of the group, our volunteers Noor Kemperman and Katy Chase flyered in the favela, as well as visiting schools and speaking with parents. This resulted in interviews with 7 children, which we held primarily to understand more about their motivation to be part of the programme, as well as to get to know them better. We accepted 5 of them. The older group trained the new children as part of the Positive Discipline methodology. We have now a group of 9 children. The atmosphere of this group is supportive and fun.
They have been working on themes such as pollution, recycling, different countries and English. Recently, the English class has taken a new step: Katy Chase – one of our volunteers – introduced the idea of “pen pals”, setting up pen pals in the US for the Mais Caminhos children, which has succeeded in increasing the will among the children to learn English to an awesome new level. It is very exciting to experience their hunger to learn more, to communicate and talk in English. If you are curious please check out our Facebook page, where you will find some great videos.
In the creative classes we have connected the children’s learning in subjects such as recycling and different countries with the creative activities. They created their own model of a favela from recycled material, and later explained what they had made and what they liked about each other’s work. They really enjoyed it and showed great enthusiasm. It was great to raise their awareness of the problem of litter, and to see them learn how they can use litter and other recycled materials for their own creativity.
The creative classes were wrapped around general themes like Mother’s Day cards. As you can see in this picture, they made beautiful cards.
Classroom meetings invite students to develop cooperation, show respect for each other’s opinions, resolve problems and learn by sharing and doing. One particular interaction between our children, Eduardo and Gabriel, provides a great example of how children can learn essential skills. Eduardo is a student who has problems comprehending and adhering to guidelines. The guidelines and related consequences are always created with the children’s participation. If the children don’t like something – or want to change something – they can indicate this. Eduardo did. He said he didn’t like Tia Noor and Tia Katy (the volunteers) as he found that they were limiting him by the guidelines: his proposal was to eliminate all the guidelines. It was great that he felt confident enough to bring this up. Another student, Gabriel, explained to Eduardo that he didn’t understand the guidelines – that they weren’t created to limit him but were instead designed to avoid chaos. He explained, “Look at the favela we live in – the chaos in the favela has created a dangerous and dirty environment.” This helped Eduardo to develop a different perspective and we were very impressed by the way Gabriel articulated the importance of the guidelines to his fellow student.
Research has shown that parental involvement is the most important factor in a student’s success in school and at home. In our On-Site Educational Programme we offer complementary education. Even though we are not an official school we believe that the integral connection between the child, the parents and us is important for the impact we want to create, improving social and life skills as well academic skills. It is important for us to know how our children live, what their family life looks like, what the ideas of their parents are, what ideas the children have and what behaviours they display both in the classroom and at home. Noor Kemperman is responsible for visiting the children at home and holding regular parent meetings. All our children´s homes have been visited at least once. If there is anything problematic going on we are in immediate contact with the parents by WhatsApp, or we meet – especially the mothers – at the school. It is great to see the happiness of the children and their parents when we visit them. They are always very welcoming and offer great hospitality.
After a difficult and somewhat slow start we can now say with pride that we have established a great group of 9 children aged between the ages of 8 and 12. They are all very enthusiastic to learn each day.
Mais Caminhos Exchange
Mais Caminhos Brave Kids
Through Mais Caminhos, six children participated in the international intercultural programme of Brave Kids in Poland. The mission of Brave Kids is to support vulnerable young people from around the world through artistic experiences which inspire them to imagine a better future for themselves and their communities and provide them with tools to help realise their aspirations.
Mais Caminhos has been working in partnership with Brave Kids since last year. This year, we had a group of six vulnerable children from the nearby favelas of Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo who prepared themselves for the big performance. We formed a group of youngsters with our partner, Solar Meninos de Luz, a respected philanthropic organisation in the favelas Pavão-Pavãozinho and Cantagalo. When we created the Mais Caminhos On-Site Educational Programme in 2014, they were the first organisation to trust us and to believe in our programme. The group was formed by five youngsters from Solar Meninos de Luz, and one youngster – Pedro – from our Mais Caminhos On-Site Educational Programme.
These were our children:
Paola Christina: 12 years old, from a very poor family without a father. Her mother works in a creche. She is the oldest and has two younger brothers, one is just six months old. She is a caring, friendly and happy young girl.
Erik: 11 years old, from a poor family. His mother is sick and has lost her vision; his father works as a doorman. He is an only child. Erik is a very responsible youngster and takes incredible care of his mother. He is very intelligent and focussed. He was described as very timid and from the start he was one of the children who took on every challenge we offered him.
Rebeca: 13 years old, from a poor family with both parents working. Her mother is a cleaning lady and her father works as a doorman. She is the youngest, with one older brother and two half-brothers. She likes to talk a lot and behaves like a typical teenage girl. She is a great dancer and takes the lead once she starts dancing and singing.
Clara Débora: 11 years old, from a family who has a slightly better income, with both parents working. She has one brother. She likes to talk, she is tall for her age.
Nicolli: 10 years old, her mother works at Solar Meninos de Luz. She is her mother´s only child but has half-brothers and half-sisters. She is fun-loving, very expressive and easily motivated to participate. She had a great desire to be part of this group.
Pedro: 10 years old, from a very poor family without a father. He lives in the poorest area of Pavãozinho. He is the youngest of the family, with two older sisters and one older brother. He is very intelligent, he is very quick in learning English, he is a good dancer and he quickly learned capoeira. He is full of energy, and this can create or contribute to some problems.
Our artistic support team
We were very lucky to be able to collaborate with Créo Kellab, Virginia Martins and Dani Marie Uhebe Misailidis.
Deborah Amaral Monteiro was a special guest who organised the costume fabrics and provided the clothes to be used by the children on stage in Poland. Deborah is the owner of the Zimpy clothes stores in Rio de Janeiro.
Créo Kellab is our theatre teacher in Mais Caminhos and he is an actor known for A´ssalto ao Banco Central´ (2011), ´Três Irmãs´(2008), ´VIPs´ (2010) and ´Victoria´ (2015).
Virginia Martins supported Créo with the rehearsals and travelled with him at her own expense. She is an actress and theatre teacher.
Dani Marie Uhebe Misailidis was the co-choreographer of the performance, together with Créo. She is a ballet dancer, choreographer of Beija Flor – one of the famous samba schools in Rio de Janeiro – and the director of Ballet Misailidis.
After conversations with the children about what they thought would best express Brazilian culture, the artistic team combined their ideas to create a spectacular performance consisting of four parts: firstly, expressing the Brazilian love of football; secondly, honouring samba, a very important dance in Brazil; thirdly, producing a piece on capoeira; and finally, closing the performance with ‘passinho’, a modern dance enjoyed by many young people.
Getting to know more about Poland was a big thing for the children. Urszula, one of our volunteers, is Polish and happily shared information with the children about Polish culture, food, climate and clothes.
For the two first weeks of the programme, five cities in Poland hosted different groups of artistic children from all over the world.
These cities were: Wroclaw, Warsaw, Puszczykowo, Walbrzych and Przemmysl.
Wroclaw was the host for our Brave Kids of Mais Caminhos and Solar Meninos de Luz and they were together with children from:
● Russia – Buryatia Republic;
● Ukraine – Lviv; and
In each one of these cities, a big group of Brave Kids staff, volunteers and host families received them with open hearts. They welcomed them in their cities, their homes and their lives, and they all have beautiful memories from their encounter.
During the last week of the Brave Kids 2015 Festival, all groups met in one city – Zagórze Ślask: 16 countries, 20 groups, 120 brave kids! It was an exciting week.
The children had a life-changing experience. They were exposed to, and participated in, many creative activities, several performances and situations in which children were teaching other children. Rebeca taught Passinho to all the children of Brave Kids. What a blast. 120 children from around the world were dancing Passinho.
This experience has changed the children’s view of the world, and not only for them. The community became very emotional when they saw the video with six of their own children among 120 children dancing Passinho in Poland.
We invite you to look at the videos on our Mais Caminhos channel on YouTube, where we share the fabulous experiences of this year’s Mais Caminhos Brave Kids: Brave Kids 2015 impression is one of several videos.
Mais Caminhos Scholarship
Lucas Souza (16) is a former resident of Casa do Caminho Orphanage who now lives in Renascer, a governmental shelter in Duque de Caxias. Lucas is one of the students in our Scholarship Programme. We offer him weekly English classes at the Language Centre, which requires him to travel to the city of Rio on a regular basis. Lucas does very well on the English course. He is a humble and grateful person, well-educated and always willing to help. He takes his responsibilities very seriously. He communicates very well and his teacher Stephany Kempker was his champion, which led us to search for a scholarship to support him further. We were lucky to receive a wonderful donation from Red Line Charity to support Lucas for further studies, and we found a great Logistics course for him. He now studies Logistics distance learning course at Senac, combining these studies with a full-time job at McDonalds, his second year at high school and his English course at Caminhos Language Centre. It’s safe to say he is being kept quite busy!
One problem Lucas had was that he did not have regular access to a laptop to aid his studies, but Tom de Schepper stepped up and donated one of his laptops. To receive the laptop we visited Deme Group – Dragabras Brasil, the company Tom works for, and what happened thereafter was fantastic. The HR supervisor and another senior Deme employee were present, and were very interested in Mais Caminhos’ history and Lucas’ story. After several conversations with Lucas and Jorge Silva, HR Supervisor of Deme Group – Dragabras Brasil it was decided that Lucas would be able to live with Jorge Silva from January 2016! We are very happy with this new direction in Lucas´ life and we will keep you posted of developments as Lucas continues with our Scholarship Programme.
Jessica (18) and Thiago (15) Rodrigues are a sister and brother who lived for about eight years in the Casa do Caminho Orphanage. When the orphanage closed down in March 2014 Jessica found a job and a house in Duque de Caxias where she has lived since. Thiago and Lucas (13) – the youngest brother of Jessica and Thiago – moved to Jessica´s house in January 2015.
At the end of May, Jessica and Thiago joined our English Programme, which is part of the Scholarship Programme. They are very keen to pick up their education again, and we hope that our support tells them they are not alone and helps to emphasise the importance of education for them. We are paying close attention to their actions, communications and progress. Their teacher was Tania Allyon, from Spain. Fortunately for Tania – but unfortunately for us! – she gained a research scholarship which meant she had to say goodbye to us. But we would like to thank Tania for all her help while she was with Mais Caminhos. We now have a new teacher who will start classes at Mais Caminhos in January.
Luciano Porfirio Afonso (15), Davi’s brother, was our other student in the Scholarship Programme. Luciano lived in the same governmental shelter as Lucas in Duque de Caxias. Luciano attended a private school, ‘the Sesi’, last year. We were lucky to have found a private sponsor for Luciano who agreed to pay for 100% of his first year at high school at the Sesi. The Sesi is a recognised and highly appreciated school in Brazil which was set up by the the industrial sector. Luciano started at the Sesi in February. As previously reported, Luciano experienced some early disciplinary issues but we saw great improvements after some assistance and intervention. Unfortunately the improvements turned out to be temporary, and Luciano’s progress dwindled. We communicate our expectations clearly and perceive mistakes as learning opportunities, but we have to see a consistent improvement. After several meetings with Luciano´s private sponsor and Diana Nijboer we saw no more signs of improvement. We sadly concluded with the private sponsor that we could not keep Luciano in our Scholarship Programme. In practice, this meant only that we stopped our monthly meetings and our involvement in Luciano’s school progress, we continued paying for the private school and all related expenses. Three months later, however, Luciano decided to stop studying at the Sesi anyway. We were saddened when we found out, but we accepted his decision. Nevertheless, we would of course like to thank our sponsor for their financial support, as well as the time they dedicated to help Luciano.
We take the Scholarship Programme very seriously. We want to help transform young people into responsible young adults who take responsibility for their behaviour and who learn from their mistakes.
Mais Caminhos Family
Davi and his family supported by all your valuable donations and by Caminhos Language Centre!
Davi´s year has been incredible. In February he started at university to fulfil his dream of becoming an electrical engineer. Since then, he has been combining his study at night, working at the Language Centre during the day and on top of that he realised his other dream: to obtain guardianship over his younger siblings, Luciana and Tiago. Since May they have lived with him in Inhaúma, where he found a house with help of Patrícia Pio. Patrícia has been supporting Davi and his siblings on many different ways. Inhaúma is close to the university where Davi studies and is about one hour travelling by public transport from Caminhos Language Centre.
Since July / August two of Davi’s other siblings, Vitor (18) and Luciano (15), have also been living with him. Davi is really happy to finally be able to take of his family. There are not many young men able to take on such a difficult challenge, let alone with the level of joy and gratefulness that Davi shows. He sets a great example for many of us. It´s not always easy for Davi to make ends meet, but he never complains, and he faces everything with grace and humility.
On 15th December Davi had his last exam of the year, and we’re delighted to say that he passed all of his exams. Well done Davi!
On 16th December Davi received additional support from the Deme Group – Dragabras Brasil. He received a card containing a sum to support his large monthly grocery expenses for his family. This extra support significantly helps Davi to keep his family together and to provide them with the necessary resources for him and all his siblings to stay focussed on their education. Davi is very grateful for this support, and all other support he and his family have received.
We expect soon to update you with a video how Davi lives in Inhaúma!
Mais Caminhos Volunteers 2015
We had the privilege of working with some awesome volunteers during 2015. We would like to give a big shout out to all of them – a huge thank you!
You poured all your love into the programmes – it hasn’t always been easy but we overcame many challenges. Your humour and love has touched the children´s lives, making them feel safe and appreciated as members of the Mais Caminhos family. The majority of our volunteers were recruited students of Caminhos Language Centre. Special thanks go to Glenda Montgomery, Vicky Bedia, Zinzi van de Veen, Jamie de Graaff, Catalina Rodriguez, Urszula Macinska, Neiza Ramos, Maud Bartelds, Maria Clara Laureno, Stephanie Kempker and Tania Ayllon, Alyssa Hervert, Noor Kemperman, Katy Chase, Sarah Milsom, Milan Amzic, Créo Kellab and Virginia Martens.
Mais Caminhos Sponsors and Gifts
We were supported in many different ways this year, and we are hugely thankful. We would particularly like to thank the following people and organisations for their support, and we hope that your support can continue in 2016 so that we can continue to provide extracurricular educational services for children and young people at risk:
Caminhos Language Centre, Gofunky.nl, Deme Group – Dragabras Brasil , Books Hostel, Red Line Charity, Ulrike Weinhold , Tom de Schepper.
Special thanks for all the people who donated wonderful Christmas presents and made financial donations for an unforgettable Christmas for the children of Caranguejo – the poorest area of the favela Pavão-Pavãozinho. This event was a huge succes. The children were happily surprised by the nice Christmas presents they received from Santa Claus. Here are some photos.
We would also like to thank Solar Meninos de Luz and Brave Kids for their partnership and cooperation in 2015.
- Mais Caminhos wishes all of you Happy New Year!
Mais Caminhos 2016
Summer Holiday Camp
From 5th January 2016 until Carnival there will be a Summer Holiday Camp for the children of Mais Caminhos On-site Educational Programme. The children are invited to bring friends and family members with them to join the Camp.
We will run holiday camp sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons which will be full of fun activities for the children. They will have lunch at Mais Caminhos and then they will go off to participate in a variety of activities, including: physical activities; visiting museums; a trip to the Maracanã stadium; working with a local artist; a trip to the zoo; among others.
We also like to thank our partner and main sponsor, Caminhos Language Centre, which supports these programmes and makes all of this possible. Please visit the Caminhos Language Centre Facebook page for more information about the language school.