Casa Weekly

Friday, August 18, 2006

Youth Leaders at the Casa

How can a space like the Casa support youth leaders from Rio's favelas (squatter communities)? Today we had a wonderful afternoon of learning and exchange among youth leaders, and may even have inspired some young people to lead in the future.

A group of four youth leaders from communities scattered in Rio's West and North Zones partnered up at 2 pm with Thais Corral, General Coordinator of the capacity-building NGO REDEH (Network of Human Development) and Teresa Keohane, an independent young Brit who has been volunteering with REDEH in Rio. Over two hours, the youth participated in a creative process that led them through three activities. First, they broke off in groups of two to relay their dreams to one another, then presented each other to the group. Next, they traced memories that shaped them back to their childhoods, each sketching their life until the present on large sheets of paper, and shared their trajectories verbally with the group. Finally, each identified three positive, and three negative experiences or charactertistics that had shaped them. Positive characteristics were posted on an outlined young person on the wall. Negative characteristics were posted on another.

As a result of this meeting, the four youth present learned about one another, focused their thoughts on their trajectories and where they were headed, and learned some creative techniques for their own future work. They also decided to meet up with Thais again next month: this time for a debate and movie showing, and to call other youth leaders.

Following this meeting, at 4:30 pm, students from the Jucelino Kubitchek public high school, a technical school, came with their teacher, Nilda, to meet the youth leaders. The theme? What is a "gestor jovem" (youth manager)? "A youth manager realizes that ultimately he is responsible for directing his own fate, and that due to his special position as a leader, realizes he has not only an opportunity, but a responsibility to set an example for other young people," explained Pedro Paulo Portela, a youth leader from São João de Meriti, a neighboring municipality. Pedro Paulo is currently organizing with other young musicians and activists in his area to occupy an abandoned building with a range of cultural activities in support of youth and social development.

The students also sat down for a discussion with Márcio Hermínio, who learned the art of film-making thanks to a partnership between CatComm and Nós do Cinema, a local NGO that trains youth from the favelas in film production. They shared with Márcio their intention to make a film about the elderly for one of their classes. "We have all the equipment we need, and the editing tools, but we have no skills," they shared, "The person who was going to help us is no longer available." Márcio quickly offered his services: "My goal is to make film production possible among youth throughout the favelas, helping them to use simple, available technologies like cell phones and digital cameras to produce short films." As a result, it was only natural he would take the time to work with these youth to help them produce a good film.

Both youth leaders were met with multiple rounds of applause and cheers as they spoke with the youth from JK High. "This space is yours," their teacher explained to them, "as you become young leaders and pursue a better society."