My blog:

The blog were I share various perspectives of our society with you! Discover how I see this world.

It's a luxury to study

In The Netherlands it’s part of your life to study,  it helps you to be prepared of the future and to be independent. It’s quit strange when you don’t study in The Netherlands, people will always ask why not? Even when you want to study it’s always hard to decide which subject you will chose.

In Brazil it’s not an ordinary thing to study, it’s a luxury. For example if you are from a favela it is not common to study. If people anyway manage to study, it is very likely that they move out of the favela afterwards, because interests change and it is easier to get a job if your address is not in a favela.

To explain more about education and my volunteering project it’s good to have some background information about the education. Here are some facts:

  1. Pre-school education (Educação Infantil) is entirely optional. This school is for children up to 3 years old and kindergarten for children from 4 to 6 years old.
  2. Primary and lower secondary education (Ensino Fundamental) or Fundamental Education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6-14.
  3. Upper secondary education (Ensino Medio) is ages 15 to 18. It is also free but not compulsory.
  4. Higher education (Ensino Superior) is provided at public or private universities. Higher education is free at public universities.
  5. The typical school year runs from February/March through November/December. Summer vacation is from mid-December to early February.
  6. Admission to a public university requires students to do an entrance exam known as vestibular for their specific course of study.

As you can read a lot of education is optional. The stupid thing of the system here is that the quality of the public primary school is so bad, that the education is not sufficient to prepare kids for entering higher education at the university. So a lot of parents choose a private school because these schools are better. But as you can imagine, a lot of people are not able to pay for private schools. This is where the gap starts. The quality of public universities is much better than the private universities, but how to apply if you aren’t in the position to go to a private school?

Another point is that some parents don’t take public school too serious, because the quality of it is bad. For example, when it’s a really rainy day, parents don’t bring their kids to school. Also the place of a school is very important. If you have to travel a lot for a good (private) school, it will be more expensive, so it’s not easy to go to school and to find a good school.


That brings me to the point to explain you more about my volunteering project. I am a consultant for 2 girls, Elis and Lorena, who are running a business called ‘Horta Inteligente’. This business develops community gardens in neighborhoods to improve the environment but also to educate kids of public schools and teach them how to take care of this garden. These girls get money from the government to run their business. They pick up materials from the neighborhood and they recycle it for the garden. They use tires or pallets , plastic bottles etc.. They work 6 months in a public school with a group of kids and their parents, they build a garden, give workshops how to recycle, teach kids how to work in the garden, give cooking classes how to cook with the vegetables of the garden and much more. It’s amazing what they do and it’s good the parents are also involved. The slogan of the company is, we plant the future. To continue this business we are working on a concept to sell their methodology as a package for private schools and with the money that they earn their they can help public schools. In the next blog I will tell you more in detail about the work that I’m doing with these girls and how you eventual can help to expand their business and help more public schools.

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Life in the favela’s

We all hear a lot about this. But what exactly is a favela? And how where they developed? Favelas are neighborhoods or slums mostly build on the hills around the big cities in Brazil. With the end of the slavery and because a lot of people in the past moved to the city for work, there was a housing shortage. So, people started to build their own houses close to the city. Nowadays only Rio counts already like 1000 favela’s. I visited one favela in Rio called Santa Marta. Favela Santa Marta is famous for having been the site of the clip "They Don't Care About Us" by Michael Jackson. This song explains really good how life feels in a favela. But what is life in a favela; Just an example, for the video clip of this song they needed to ask for permission of the ‘traficante’ drug dealer of this favela. Because every favela has their own rules. Like it’s forbidden to rob. And if you want to start with a social project, you need to talk to the government and ask permission of the traficante. The other way around doesn’t work.

The favela is a maze of stacked houses and narrow streets tumbling down the steep Rio hillside. I was blown away by what we saw when we made our way down through the favela Santa Marta. It’s  colourful, you have an amazing view over the city and the sense of community is incredible. We passed by crèches, supermarkets, bakeries and bars inside the favela. Everything is there.

Santa Marta was the first favela to undergo a pacification program where control of the favela is passed to the police who then set up a permanent presence in the favela in an effort to remove drug gangs and reduce crime while implementing social change projects. Especially because of the big events like the world championship and the Olympic games. Nobody knows what the future will bring after these events? The story they told us is as follows; The people in the favela’s work hard but still earn less money. Kids go to public schools with a bad quality, after many years of school still some of them are analphabetic. And this generation is also popular for drug dealers. Why? These kids are free in the afternoon, there is nothing to do for them in the favela. The perfect target group for drug dealers because kids are protected by law. They start already with involving kids when they are 5 years old. By asking them to deliver some groceries and then they will receive a candy or money. And because the kids having nothing to do and are bored. When these kids reach the age of 7 they are ready to deal with drugs. So you can imagine how happy parents would be, if these kids had a football field or other social programs, to give them a feeling to have a future. For parents it’s very hard because they work the whole day and need every cent. And with the corruption in this country it’s hard to believe in a good future, sometimes they have more trust in the drug dealers than in the police. How is it possible that there are so many drugs in Brazil but they are not from here? There must be a great demand otherwise it would not be here. And why is a favela unsafe? Because it’s all about money, everybody (read: also the corruption) want to earn money. As the songs says: they really don’t care about us, the government is not really involved in improving the situation but only in getting the money of the traficante. (
Suggestion: the movie City of God)

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First experience of Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has a lot of diversity and contradictions as well. You can’t get bored in Rio, just go to beaches where everything happens. There is a lot to see and it’s hard to just lay straight on your towel. It’s the spot where everybody comes together and it gives you a good impressions of the life of the carioca (the locals). It doesn’t matter if you are super hot, very trained or really fat, it’s all there. Just be happy with yourself that’s the feeling that they give you. They play volleyball, football, they flirt, swim, sell drinks, cocktails, food. So, enough to discover. But contradicting to this feeling of freedom that you get here on the beach there is a lot of racism. Because Brazil is the last country what had slavery. And although you think brown, black and sunburned people will have the same color, taxi’s don’t stop easily for black people with curly hear. It’s just one example. For more background read the testimonial of Daniele de Araújo. The other contradictions is the old bohemian neighborhood where the colonist built there houses, because the city centre became too crowded for them. Nowadays it’s a really old neighborhood with beautiful houses and a lot of creative designers who live there. Next to his neighborhood you have the favela’s and the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches with many skyscrapers. And this is not everything, still every day I fall from one surprise into another. Enough to explore. Next time I will tell you more about the life in the favela’s in relation to my volunteering project. 

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