Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy First Birthday!

The end of January saw the first birthday of the Trust and it's been an amazing year. We raised nearly five thousand pounds to support the projects in Brazil and South Africa. We owe a huge thank you to everyone who's supported us, who's donated money, run 10K, been waxed or got up at 4am to play capoeira. There's no way we could have got this far without the incredible support we've enjoyed. Now seems like a good point to take a look at where your money went and the difference you made.

(Click the links to see photos)

Salvador, Brazil

The project in Salvador, Brazil is set in an old school by a beautiful lake. On the hill behind the school is the favela or slum where the kids live.

When Negão and Suzette started the project back in February last year, 60 kids turned up. Now there's often close to 100 children attend the school with classes all day, every day.

Brazil is where we spend the most money. There's three teachers there, Rupi, Cui and Pesardo. Elaine works as the administrator keeping a check on the kids and Negao's father, Sr. Narciso helps working with the local government and businesses in Brazil where we're also a registered charity. He also organises community events at the project. You'll often find various capoeira celebrities like Mestre Olavo and Mestre Itapoan at the project too. (Negao's father is on the left).

The teachers get paid just over a pound a day and a couple of times last year the Trust has faced the prospect of not being able to pay that.

Getting water and electricty into the project was a huge step this year. It meant that we could start evening classes. Water and water filters meant the kids had a clean source of drinking water.

We've also spent money renovating the school and there's now two classrooms and a courtyard that are good for the kids to use.

Through various methods in Brazil and the UK we've managed to acquire things like chairs, books and pencils.

Hamburg, South Africa

The Hamburg project started way back in 2003 Mosqueteiro and Xaruto set up with the help of the Keiskamma Trust in Hamburg, a small township on the eastern cape of South Africa. The town suffered badly under apartheid and continues to suffer from poverty today.

The group is lead by two of the older students who keep in regular contact. The annual batizado, a key event in capoeira starts with an intensive two weeks of lessons from Negão and in a town with little outside contact it's an important reminder and commitment to the group.

Most of the money spent on South Africa goes towards the batizado covering living and travel expenses of those involved and t-shirts for those taking part in the event.

Bailarina who's been a key part of the Hamburg project is now spending eight months living in Hamburg working for the Keiskamma Trust and spending time with the capoeira group out there.

But why capoeira?

How does capoeira help the kids in the projects? It's a cool thing sure, but what actual difference does it make to their lives?

Take a second to imagine growing up in a slum in Brazil. All your family will live in a room the size of an average UK living room. Not just your brother or sister, your entire family.
And there's no running water or sewers. There is education for a couple of hours a day but it's of limited quality.

And there's the drugs trade. Everywhere. For a fourteen year old carrying drugs to the hotels or apartments where the tourists and middle class are can earn up to £100 a month. That's a huge amount when you think that minimum wage is just over a pound a day and there aren't any jobs.

Of course there are risks. The police, underpaid and underarmed compared with the dealers don't always work to the same standard of justice we're used to in the West. And gun battles between rival dealers are common. In fact, gun violence in Rio alone kills ten times more kids than the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The project in Brazil provides a safe place for kids. It's a positive place and capoeira provides an activity they can throw themselves into away from favela life. The teachers are role models from their community and shows that there's another path away from the life of crime.

Mothers talk of how their kids have become more respectful. How their school work has improved. And how their kids have ended stopped the petty crime that often leads to something bigger.

Capoeira is a key way to get kids into the project. And when they're there we can teach them things like English, a key skill with massive hotels just a few kilometeres away.

Let's hope 2006 can be a even better year for the Trust.