Marcos Lopes tells his story of reform, from being the leader of a street gang to leaving that life and reaching out to help others like him.
“One could say it was a reaction typical from a journalist, but it took me a long time to believe the trip was true. I thought that being invited to meet editors from European newspapers – with all expenses paid – was just too good to be true.”
The Brazilian government claims destruction of the Amazon has fallen to its lowest level in 23 years. But environmental activists continue to be threatened and killed by loggers. Ana Aranha met one woman forced into hiding by assassins.
This month the Brazilian government announced it would provide aid to two northwest states where over 4,000 Haitians have moved after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Ana Aranha met the people hoping to rebuild their lives.
Brazilian journalist, Ana Aranha, has produced a video blog in which Tia Dag, director of the Brazilian NGO and school, Casa do Zezinho, interviews one of her ex students, known as Nene.
A group of women in Brazil have learned the basics of the building trade, thanks to Lua Nova, a non-profit organisation that helps pregnant women facing high-risk situations such as homelessness, drug addiction and domestic violence.
I am growing worried about the rise of murders in our neighbourhood. This entire past month we keep hearing stories of the multiple murders of six or seven men each weekend.
This was a sad week for us. The father of two of our zezinhos [students] drank himself to death. Officially pronounced dead of cirrhosis, the disease had grown worse on account of the lack of medical care in public hospitals.
In the first week of May I was invited by the University of San Francisco to give a lecture on how we run Casa do Zezinho. I was supposed to give a long talk to undergraduate students majoring in Latin American Studies, but I ended up subverting the planned class structure.
Imagine working an eight-hour shift, spending four hours a day on crowded buses and coming home to a cramped, enclosed space where the air does not flow properly and where ten people share a space that under the best of conditions should house five.
There is an unspoken law of silence in the slums that makes people keep these matters to themselves. This jarring contrast has made me think about how the root of violence is intricately related to a lack of sincere communication.
“It is clear to me that the best way to help our youth rise out of this marginal existence and to stay out of gangs is to listen to what they have to say and to show trust in their ever independent development.”
Although we work with a lot of children at the Casa do Zezinho who hail from violent backgrounds, we had never encountered serious hostility among the zezinhos [students] until this year. Unfortunately, we recently witnessed the first ever emergence of a gang-like group.
Plans for the Casinha, or “Little House”, reveal the new favela pre-school to be built at Casa do Zezinho. Six hundred children between three and six years old will attend classes in the three-storey building.
My new project to expand Casa do Zezinho is building the Casinha (“Little House”). We are planning a three-storey building near the school where 600 children aged between three and six can spend the day.