Me (Max Oliveira) and my partner Safaa Usmani are raising money for three community projects in Cumuruxatiba, a small village in Bahia, Brazil.
I am from Brazil, I was born in Alcobaça, Bahia, a neighbouring coastal town to Cumuruxatiba and I have always lived in this region. Safaa is from the UK, but has always spent time in Brazil. We met in 2010 in Cumuruxatiba where we were both passionately involved in the three projects we are raising money for:
Vila Escola Projeto de Gente - a small, alternative school;
Capoeira Abadá - a capoeira group working with sports and local culture; and
Curumim Batuke - a percussion group engaging with music, local culture and the African roots of the region.
These projects help the community think about the environment, culture, social responsibility and community spirit through their different activities of sport, education and music, whilst providing theory, instruction and debate around these subjects. They run year-round activities and occasional events such as festivals and workshops to draw attention to these issues. These projects need money to buy materials to do their activities, pay the rent of the space used for lessons, give support to the collaborators and create new activities and projects.
These amazing projects need your generosity to survive!
Vila Escola Projeto de Gente was created in 2007 with the objective of becoming a space of community education, where children are encouraged to pursue their interests so that a pedagogical learning process develops. The project is always attentive in seeking to transmit, besides humanitarian values, knowledge of common disciplines such as mathematics, Portuguese, geography and history and also environmental education and the valorization of local and regional culture. The project uses various activities to achieve the integration and better education of children. Such activities include theatre, music, swimming, crafts, football, chess and walks in the village, in addition to evening parties and performances with other groups in the community. In this way the welfare of the children and the community in general is improved.
The Cumuruxatiba group of Capoeira Abadá was created in 2009 when natives of Cumuruxatiba Pé de Serra, Shal de Jesus and Onda Santana, who already practiced the Brazilian martial-art, joined themselves with a group already recognized globally in the practice of Capoeira, called Abadá Capoeira. Through the practice of capoeira and other cultural manifestations such as ‘Puxada de Rede’, the group seeks to advise and educate participants on issues such as violence and respect, as well as responsibility and concern with the conservation of the environment. Events such as Abadá Árvore, 2009 (Abadá Tree); Cultural Festival of Cumuruxatiba (2010); Capoeira Festival in Contact with Nature (2013) and The Preservation of the Oceans (2013) provide platforms for the Capoeira group to showcase its work and teach to a wider audience.
Curumim Batuke is a local percussion group created in 2001 by Aldo José Lira who started his work with only seven children from the community working with drums from a disused drum kit. Percussion is one of the main expressions of the culture and joy of the people of Bahia. Curumin Batuke searches to encourage young children and teenagers to cooperate and develop self-esteem by affirming their skills, abilities and talents. This is achieved through weekly rehearsals, public presentations and taking care of the instruments played. On top of this, activities like talking circles are used to discuss traversing issues such as gender relations, sexuality, drugs, values and adolescence. The idea is to provide an environment for reflection, debate and construction of thoughts to empower young people to make their life choices.
These three groups share the same objectives and passions towards supporting their community and protecting the environment around them. For this reason they collaborate in much of their work. For example Capoeira Abadá will often give lessons to the students of Projeto de Gente and similarly Curumim Batuke and Capoeira Abadá will put on a presentation together. The three groups especially collaborate during large events such as the festivals mentioned above, as they will do in an upcoming national event ‘Encontro da Educação Democrática’ (Meeting of Democratic Education), this year being held in Cumuruxatiba.
Where The Money Will Go
Here are some examples of where funding is greatly needed for our community projects:
- To support the project collaborators
- To hire transport when needed, for example for the participants of 'Projeto de Gente' to visit local towns
- To buy new materials, for example when Curumim Batuke needs a drum repairing
- To support educators who come from outside the community to give specialised workshops and activities
- To hold special events for the wider community, including showcasing the work of the projects and involving the whole community in their learning process
- To rent space for events
The Situation in Cumuruxatiba
Cumuruxatiba is a small village on the Discovery Coast, located in the South of Bahia a Northeastern state of Brazil. In 1999 this coastal area was defined by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The village has about 5000 inhabitants and was originally formed by the indigenous people and fishermen in the region – today it has residents from other countries and from other regions of Brazil.
The village, as well as the entire south coast of Bahia, has faced social and environmental changes over the past 20 years, many of these through the increase of “development”, which usually does not pay much attention to the impact on the life of the local communities. Some of the major problems generated by this intense increase in development, amongst other changes, are;
- expulsion and marginalization of local populations;
- degradation of traditional cultures;
- pollution and destruction of the natural environment;
- degradation of cultural values and imbalance of the local economy.
- The destruction of ecosystems, deforestation and threats to marine and terrestrial biodiversity.
- Pollution caused by the release of solid and liquid residues in soil, water courses and the sea.
- Coastal degradation by intense withdrawal of sand, vegetation, land and marine erosion and the destruction of landscapes.
- Reduction in the availability of fresh water due to increased demand, excessive use of water reserves underground, and the drawing down of groundwater.
In view of this aggravation and realizing the need and desire to change for a better awareness of progress-community relationships on behalf of residents, some groups have formed, such as ‘Vila-Escola Projeto de Gente’ (Village school, Project of the People), Abadá Capoeira Cumurxatiba, and Curumin Batuke. These groups are formed by and for natives of the village and for outsiders residing in Cumuruxatiba in order to rescue, reaffirm and preserve the local culture and traditions. These groups work to enable a higher-quality and more diversified education and to promote environmental awareness and the best utilisation of natural resources both by the community and visitors.
A common problem faced by these groups, and by similar groups in Brazil, is the lack of financial resources. They don't receive incentives from, nor are linked to, the state or to public bodies, and very few of these private institutions survive from sporadic donations. In this way they meet great difficulties in buying materials suitable for their practices or being able to afford to pay the people who work with them and to pay invited professionals when necessary. These groups only manage to keep going today thanks to, as well as sporadic grants, the help of great and caring collaborators, who lend their physical space without charge for the work of the projects.
We hope to build, together with the projects, community, visitors and collaborators, a more just village, with increasingly rich culture and preserved nature.