A leap into the dark.
This was how one of Brazil's largest newspapers, O Estado de São Paulo, reacted to the result of the recent presidential elections. This sense of foreboding uncertainty has come to grip many in Brazil, the fear that the country has embarked upon a potentially perilous journey into the unknown.
This is not the space to dissect the ins and outs of the election campaign. EduMais tries, as far as possible, to remain neutral in these processes. Yet we feel it necessary to paint a picture of the potential effects of these results upon our work, as well as the country as a whole. Although we are not quite sure what lays ahead – nobody is, in truth – there is nevertheless plenty of reason for concern.
We’re back with an update about Anna’s heroic Ironman 70.3. On Sunday the 30th of September, she did it! She came 45th in the female 30-34 category, in just over 7 hours. The 1.9km ocean swim took her 43 minutes; the 90km bike ride in the wind and mountains, 3 hours and 27 minutes; and the 21km run (in the 33 degrees heat of a sweltering midday sun), 2 hours and 40 minutes. It was brutal, it was harsh, it challenged her, but Anna never gave up. It showed Anna’s character: no matter how hard it gets, she gets it done. She raised €1660,00. What a fantastic achievement!
At EduMais, we teach a broad curriculum of English, Sport, Web Design, Art and Entrepreneurship. But for a child to thrive, these subjects are of limited value without the bedrock of social and emotional skills crucial to navigating everyday life. We aim to cultivate the whole child, by keeping a clear focus on integrating social and emotional learning into our academic curriculum.
And this couldn’t come at a more important time. Now more than ever, the favela community of Pavão–Pavãozinho–Cantagalo needs to ensure that the next generation are equipped with the resilience, empathy and self-esteem to be able to face the harsh realities of an ever more violent and unequal Rio de Janeiro. We are certain that social and emotional nurture will be the key to a bright future for the children that we work with.
The students on our entrepreneurship course are soon to finish their last year of high school and many choices need to be made. Some want to go to university, some want to start their own business, and some will go directly into the labour market. But how do you prepare yourself for all these options?
Together with their teachers, the students are studying for their vital final exams, which will be especially important for those who want to go to university. Those who want to start their own business are being helped by our entrepreneurship course. But something was missing: how could we prepare the students to enter the labour market? How could they get answers to essential preparatory questions such as: who am I, what are my interests, and how do I market myself?
It’s 17:45 and the sun is about to go down. Rebeka and Daan are preparing the EduMais room, located within the school of Solar Meninos de Luz. Most of Solar's 400+ students are leaving to go home but a few aren't; they are staying to join EduMais's extracurricular English class!
These determined students asked for extra classes to further improve their English, aware that their parents would be unable to pay for a course. When looking into the possibilities of meeting their request, Diana, the founder, was delighted to receive a volunteer application from Rebeka, a professional English Language Teacher at Rio International School in Barra de Tijuca. Keen to put her skills and experience to use within the community, Rebeka was worried that her work schedule might prove limiting, as she could only volunteer in the evenings. But by a stroke of luck, it was a perfect fit!
Leaving your place of birth for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. Without your family for support, and in a foreign country where your language isn't spoken, you would be forgiven for finding everything a little overwhelming, especially if you were just fifteen years old. Yet Thaís appears to have taken it all in her stride.
“My mum was much more nervous than me,” she laughs. I fear I have to admit that I am too: Thaís scoffs at my idea that she might have been anxious on her first ever flight. “Why?,” she asks, “I just slept! Then I woke up with a headache, drank some water, and went back to sleep again."
I started my journey with EduMais at the beginning of 2017 as an English teacher. For me this was an opportunity to get to know those in the communities of Rio, and try to connect and see how I could make a positive impact in their lives. From the beginning I really identified with the EduMais approach, which was not only to teach English, but also create a Positive Discipline environment where the children could have role models to demonstrate positive behaviours, like being silent instead of yelling. The community is so chaotic that this kind of teaching can make a real difference in the children's behaviours, and in a short time I saw amazing changes in some of the most unruly students.
My first experience of Brazil was on a backpacking trip across South America, just over two and a half years ago. Rio was the first stop and when I left I swore to myself that I would be back in this incredible city someday; I didn't know how, when or why, I just knew I would.
Then, in February 2017, I booked a flight back to Rio to see friends that I made during my first visit, this time for Carnival. It was supposed to be just a two-week holiday before starting a new job with a charity in London . . . well, that was eighteen months ago now! I just couldn't bring myself to leave. I was completely taken by Rio and without a job, nor any Portuguese or money, I decided that I would stay.
Why I chose to volunteer with Edumais and what I've learned from the experience, by long-term volunteer Nikola
I stumbled upon Edumais when delving into the abyss of volunteering opportunities in South America. I had backpacked in South America three years earlier and Brazil speciﬁcally had left a very strong impression on me. I had recently left my finance job in London, moved back to my parents, and had a short experience volunteering in Greece to aid in the Syrian refugee crisis. I was looking for a change but not constant change. My backpack was no longer calling me. I wanted to give back and stay long enough in a place to be able to partake in something meaningful.
One of the challenges faced by young people from underprivileged backgrounds is the difficulty of picturing themselves in different circumstances. Instead of appearing open to their influence and impact, the wider world can seem like something from which they are irredeemably excluded. As a result, their potential can suffer not so much from a lack of aspiration, as from a lack of awareness of the possible avenues available to them.