Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Le Temps Passe

How it’s been so long since my time in Sao Paulo, in Latin America in general. Old friends remain, new ones beckon… perhaps the time has come to revisit the projects started, finished and unfinished. The progress made, the children inspired who must now be burgeoning adults and of course the connections made with the wonderful people that are Paulistas, Bahianos. How quickly things happen, the world changes and remains the same.

Le Temps Passe

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Friday, September 8, 2006

As Eleições Estão Chegando! (The elections are coming!)

The Brazilian national elections are coming and election campaign is rife with action.  The towns, especially the poorer parts have been painted red by campaign banners…literally.  With mammoth sized pictures and slogans, you can hardly look anywhere without seeing campaign ads.  Here it seems that whoever can scream the loudest will win the vote.  

 

From loudspeakers in moving vans to live performances in the squares, everyone whether they want to or not, will hear about the candidates for the upcoming elections. 
 The unbearable noise made me think that perhaps it works that if the candidates scream loud enough the subliminal messages will sink into the heads of the voters to cast their ballots for them on election day or maybe the same message will remind the citizens of the headaches from weeks of street campaign noise and of political promises that are never realized.  One way or the other, a new set of candidates or a new set of promises by incumbents will be set into motion, the only question that remains is: will some good come for the indigent community?


As eleições brasileiras estão chegando e as campanhas estão dominando as cidades, especialmente nas partes pobres elas estão pintadas de vermelho nas paredes…literalmente.   Com figuras e slogans gigantescos não dá pra olhar pra lugar algum sem ver as publicidades de campanha. Aqui, parece que quem grita mais alto vence.

Dos alto-falantes dos carros aos comícios nas praças, todo mundo, quer queiram ou não, vão ouvir os candidatos da próxima eleição. O barulho insuportável me faz pensar que isso dá certo, se o candidato gritar alto suficiente, as mensagens subliminares entrarão na cabeça dos eleitores que lembrarão o número dos candidatos no dia das eleições ou, talvez, a mesma mensagem fará com que os eleitores se lembrem das semanas de dor de cabeça por causa dos barulhos das campanhas de ruas e das promessas políticas que nunca cumpriram. De um jeito ou de outro, novos candidatos ou novas promessas pela pessoa incumbida serão propostas, a pergunta que fica é: Eles farão alguma coisa boa pelas comunidades pobres?

   

Posted by Obi in 18:17:29 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Human Rights – Our Property

One of my roles as a an educator and human rights scholar here is to promote respect for human rights and freedoms endowed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to secure effective recognition and observance of these freedoms as expressed under the Declaration.


 

Because of this responsibility I will be remiss not to comment on what I see as a failure to protect fundamental rights granted by law to every citizen in this society.  In order to fully realize the freedoms in the Declaration, there has to be a “social and international order” that will allow these rights to be attained according to Article 28.

 

The challenge here is the social order can be incompetent or entirely driven by pecuniary incentives.  This means that effective remedy for violations of fundamental rights is subject to the highest bid and the indigents often resolve to rebel.  For there to be true progress, for the poor to shake this image of being seen as dangerous, human rights must be recognized as every human’s property so therefore you can’t bid on human rights.


 

Direitos Humanos – Nosso Patrimônio 

 

Um dos meus papéis como educador e estudioso dos direitos humanos aqui é promover o respeito pelos direitos humanos e liberdade favorecido pela Declaração Universal dos Direitos Humanos e segurar o reconhecimento e cumprimento efetivo dessa liberdade expressada na Declaração.

 

Por causa dessa responsabilidade, seria uma negligência minha não comentar a falha na proteção dos direitos fundamentais garantidos por lei para todos os cidadãos dessa sociedade. Para perceber completamente as liberdades e direitos da Declaração, tem que haver uma “ordem social e internacional” que permita que esses direitos sejam cumpridos de acordo com o Artigo 28.

 

O desafio aqui é a ordem social ser incompetente ou inteiramente fundamentada em incentivos financeiros. Isso significa que a solução efetiva para as violações dos direitos fundamentais é objeto de leilão e com freqüência os mais pobres resolvem se rebelar.  Para haver progresso, para os pobres não serem mais vistos como perigosos, os direitos humanos devem ser reconhecidos como patrimônio de todas as pessoas e então você não pode mais leiloar nossos direitos. 

 

   

Posted by Obi in 19:39:18 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Art Of Dance In The Home Of Rhythm

As a previously silent part of this project, I traveled to
Maua to see what ILI created.  Upon the first moment of my arrival in Maua, it was clear that there was nothing remotely scary about this favela.  People didn’t have much, but it was just a place where they lived and went about their daily lives.  It was their home.
I was welcomed with open arms by the Rosas Negra family.  Even with my limited Portuguese, the people at Rosas patiently tried to speak with me and encouraged me to feel comfortable among them.

During my first days, I just observed the children in various classes at Rosas.  These children were open, eager, and obviously excited to be engaged.


After a few days I gave a dance class in the small room Rosas cleared-out for me.  There were about 20 children, too many for the space but we made-do.  Despite the challenge of the space, my poor attempts at Portuguese, and an entirely new technique of modern dance, we accomplished quite a bit.  Every movement I gave the children they tried, perhaps apprehensively at first, but nonetheless they were open and made the attempt.

 

These children corrected a very important misconception I held about dance native to Brazil.  Through their timidity and embarrassment when I asked them to do a movement with hip-rolls, they taught me that none of the dances of Brazil-Samba, Afro–Brazilian, or otherwise–initiate movement from their hips.  No matter how a movement looks, the hips are a part of the body that simply follows, with the place of power and commencement existing elsewhere. My days spent with these children were tremendously inspiring.  There was no question how much they valued our presence as Obi and I were greeted each day with kids running to us with hugs and kisses on the cheek, not to mention scoldings if we arrived late.  These students are all so capable; the only things they lack are resources and someone who will regularly take the time to come teach them.

 

Entry by Dinita Nicole

August 11-17 2006

 

 


 

A arte da dança no berço do ritmo  

 

Como um prévio contato com esse contato, viajei para Mauá para ver o que o ILI havia criado. No primeiro momento que cheguei a Mauá, ficou claro que não havia nada de temeroso nessa favela. As pessoas não tinham muito, mas era só um lugar onde elas moravam e viviam suas vidas. Era a casa delas. Fui recebida de braços abertos pela família do Rosas Negra. Até com o meu português limitado, o pessoal do Rosas, pacientemente, tentavam falar comigo e me faziam me sentir confortável entre eles. 

Durante meus primeiros dias, assisti a várias aulas no Rosas. As crianças estavam receptivas, ansiosas e, claro, com vontade de serem envolvidas.

Depois de alguns dias, dei uma aula de dança na pequena sala do Rosas que foi esvaziada por mim. Havia 20 crianças, muitas para o espaço, mas conseguimos fazer. Tirando o problema do espaço e meu pobre português, fomos bem sucedidos com uma técnica completamente nova de dança moderna. Todos os movimentos que passava pra eles, eles tentavam, talvez, de uma forma apreensiva por ser a primeira vez, mas eles estavam abertos e tentaram. 

Essas crianças corrigiram uma importante concepção que eu tinha sobre as danças nativas brasileiras. Pela timidez que elas demonstravam quando eu as pedia para fazer um movimento com os quadris, elas me ensinaram que nenhuma das danças do Brasil – Samba, Afro-Brasileira, ou qualquer outra.- iniciam com movimento do quadril. Não importa qual seja a dança, os quadris simplesmente seguem os movimentos do corpo, com o poder do lugar e da festa, como em todos os lugares. Os dias que passei com essas crianças foram totalmente inspiradores. Não tinha como perguntar sobre a consideração deles com a nossa presença, porque eu e o Obi éramos cumprimentados todos os dias com as crianças correndo pra gente e nos dando abraços e beijos no rosto, tirando as broncas que recebíamos quando chegávamos atrasados. Esses alunos são muito capazes, a única coisa que eles precisam é de recursos e alguém que regularmente vai lá pra ensiná-las.

 

 

Postado por Dinita Nicole

17-08-2006

 

 

 

Posted by Obi in 05:02:11 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Our Dilemma

The biggest challenges I’ve had so far has been the lack of resources.  In class today I had two students arguing over who will get to do most of the assignment using the Linux word processor.  It was surprising for me to see two students so eager to do an assignment on the computer that they argued over the opportunity.  Unfortunately, I only have a very limited amount of computers available for them.  I was able to schedule specific times so that they could both use the machine, however this is an ever growing temporary fix.  We need to have our computers down here at the Center.

With such bright minds and eagerness to learn, I am concerned for the lack of resources and ability to ship donated computers to the site.  I was lucky enough to have Macalester College in St. Paul donate some old computers for the center, however, I have not been able to find shipment for the computers from Minneapolis-St. Paul to Sao Paulo Brazil.  I am still looking for someone to either donate shipping for the PCs or give us reduced rates for the shipment.
 
Any information or help from anyone will be much appreciated.  Any help from missionary groups, commercial freight carriers or airlines is welcome.  Donations can be made through the ILI for tax deduction and charity contributions.  Please contact me at: obi@internationalleadership.org or Coventry Cowens of ILI at: Coventry@visi.com

Posted by Obi in 04:54:35 | Permalink | Comments Off

Friday, August 18, 2006

Prerogative & Criteria

This entry is an attempt to outline the problem of adequacy and access to higher education opportunities here.


 

The idea is to encourage the children to dream about the possibility of going to the lauded public universities, a prerogative of those who have paid for the best primary and secondary education.  A gloomy academic future confronts those that dare enter the free primary school system.  It is a shame that the only criterion for admission to the good universities is an exam score.  Entire lives, experiences, vision and character is ignored.  The sad status quo is that merit is bought and struggle is looked upon with suspicion.

 

Our endeavor is against this prerogative, to make will the only criteria.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Modes of Transportation

We had an exercise in my english class where I asked my students to write as an assignment all the names of the different modes of transportation they can think of that is still used today in their community.  They came up with several different interesting responses one of which was a horse and carriage.  I smirked at the idea of a horse and carriage as a mode of transport during the review in class.  The students and some of the other teachers explained to me that truly today in their community, the horse and carriage I see is not luxury but rather a way of getting around. 

That explained an interesting question for me, on several occasions on my way to the Center I see beautiful horses often eating out of the garbage on the street.  I always believed horses ate only hay until I saw them eating fruits and other trash in Maua.  These horses belong to the owners of the single horse carriages.  Albeit the carriage is an outdated mode of tranportation, with today’s increasing costs of tranportation, this practical mobility for the poor could well become more than a tactical luxury.

 

Posted by Obi in 19:03:28 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bare necessities

As strange as it sounds, so far my biggest safety fears has been going from my house in the city to the train station in the city.  Once I arrive in Maua or when am in the favela, I feel the safety and warmth of the community and have nothing to worry about.  Ironic that in the modern city lies the fear.  All the warnings friends have given about safety and caution here are true with respect to the city not the favela.

I get more children every day who want to participate in the ILI/Rosas Center.  I can only take so many for the sake of space and limited resources.  The morning children eat breakfast at the Center before their classes and the afternoon session has lunch as well after their activities.  We need sponsors to donate food and supplies for the children.  Our next challenge is to find an organization or entity that is willing to donate basic food or supplies for our growing need, next will be the city.  Someone has to see the light.

 

Posted by Obi in 19:01:33 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Osasco

After my discovery of Paranapiacaba, I ventured deeper into Sao Paulo on an invitation of a friend to visit his barrio.  I arrived after the long trip to discover yet another favela community that was as warm and welcoming as was its people.  I was treated with the utmost courtesy, I felt so safe and comfortable that I would only realize I was in the favela looking down from the top of the hill.  It was a different and rewarding perspective.  For me favela was slowly beginning to stand for ‘forgotten’; overlooked in the distribution of resources.

 

Posted by Obi in 18:58:53 | Permalink | Comments Off

Paranapiacaba

Amongst the interesting events I have been able to see here has been the Winter Festival at Paranapiacaba.  Paranapiacaba is a small area in the Municipality of Santo Andre, a virgin natural community amid the towering metropolis of the city.  With trees and trekking for miles, this pristine high elevation former old English community welcomes over 7,000 people every weekend inside the months of July and August for a free festival celebrating the regional foods, crafts, culture and music. Along with some colleagues, I saw a local blues band perform and tried a few traditional dishes.

I hope to organize an excursion outside the festival for the children of Rosas to this beautiful area.  It is a great escape from the drudgery of everyday city life that these children often wrestle with; they, my everyday heroes, like all the other tourists, deserve a piece of this natural wonder.

    

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