To collaborate for the formation of reflexive critical subjects in the different knowledge levels (technicians, graduate and postgraduates), capable of accomplishing the development of educational, scientific, economical, political and cultural levels in a maintainable way in communities of low income.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My journey with PRECE: "Sankofa"- The Memorial of PRECE

My journey with PRECE: "Sankofa"- The Memorial of PRECE: "I have the great fortune of working with what I believe to be the most beautiful and inspiring educational movement in the world, PRECE, a..."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One Step Further From the Grip of Poverty

One Step Further From the Grip of Poverty

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One Step Further From the Grip of Poverty

one step further Valdênia was 15 years old when she taught a little boy in the community to read and write.
“He was 7 and had difficulties learning at school. His mother asked me to help him.”
At that time, Valdênia was in high school, but had no hope to get into a university. Today, three years later, she can see that she was practicing her vocation.

Valdênia studies Pedagogy at one of the most important universities in northeast Brazil, and this opportunity was only possible because she attended a pre-university course supported through a Complementary Intervention offered by Compassion.
Valdênia was one of 47 teenagers who benefited from a scholarship to study at Instituto Coração de Estudante (Heart of Student Institute), a pre-university course created to serve students who couldn’t attend good and effective high schools.
In Brazil, the best universities are federal or state funded. Vacancies are limited, and only the best students, who dedicate hours and hours to study, have the chance to compete for enrollment.
Coming from a poor family who lives in Fortaleza, Valdênia is the first in her family to attend a university. Her mother knows only how to sign her own name; Valdênia’s father taught her and her other siblings to work for the basics in order to survive in life.
For Valdênia’s parents who only completed basic schooling, this is how life was like: to be born, to grow up, to learn the basics to survive, and to work their entire life to earn a living. Getting a better life was meant for other people, not for their family.
But Escola Evangélica Monte Sinai Child Development Center (Evangelical School Mount Sinai) taught Valdênia that it was possible to get a better life, and for it she would need to study hard to achieve. Valdênia kept this in her heart.
“Once, a teacher told to us not to give up on our dreams. She used King David as an example of life. He waited to be king.”
When she got to high school, she tried to find a job to please her parents, but because she was a minor (in Brazil, 18 is the adulthood age) she couldn’t find one, even with her mother pressing her.
The last year of high school, she finally decided to stop looking for a job; she would use her free time to study for university. Her mother didn’t agree with this and warned Valdênia that she had one chance. If she didn’t get into a university, she would have to find a job in the next year and forget about studying.
Valdênia waited anxiously for the start of the pre-university course. During this time, she embarked on studies by herself.
“In order to earn my own money and help my father, not giving more expenses to him, I started tutoring children in the neighborhood.”
Through this initiative, Valdênia began learning how to teach others, and this ability would be important when she got the pre-university course.
The pre-university course she took serves needy adolescents. All its teaching methods are designed to fill the gaps these students had.
In small groups, the students are encouraged to share their knowledge and teach each other. The study is collaborative.
Before the courses begin, the students, who are taught by university students, are subjected to a test to measure their level of learning, then they are separated into peer groups.
“This method was important for me. I had difficulty with chemistry, and I could learn it by studying in small groups. I’m very good in geography, so I could help students who had difficulties with in this subject.”
Compassion supported Valdênia and others buy covering the course’s monthly payment, bus ticket, books and study material for three months, which is the duration of the course. It costs approximately $300 per person for the course.
Taiane was another sponsored child who benefited. Age 18 and attending Pleno Florescer Child Development Center (Full Bloom) since she was 9, she had tried to get into the federal university in 2008, but was unsuccessful as she failed in some essay questions.
When Taiane started pre-university course she was surprised at the method.
“In the beginning it was complicated for me, because we used to sit and just watch the class. But during the course, I realized that this different method is excellent. I had to learn to help the others. So, I learned more than I knew!”
Like Valdênia, Taiane is the first one in her family to attend university. She successfully got into the Federal University as a Library major.
“When I graduate, I’ll open a library in my community to encourage children to read.”
When Valdênia saw her name on the approval list, she couldn’t believe it.
“I asked the monitor to search for my name on the list. I started to jump when he read my name. I was trembling. I got 50 cents (about $0.25) and I went to a cyber cafe. There, I looked for my name on the list again! When I found out, I closed the Web page and opened it again. I did it three times!”
Because of the pre-university course, Valdênia and Taiane are college students and they have taken another important step toward freedom from poverty.

  7 Responses on “One Step Further From the Grip of Poverty”
  1. Lisa MilesNo Gravatar Says:
    Great post and congratulations to Valdenia and Taiane on their successes!
    I had to look up Pedagogy. It means “the study of being a teacher and the correct use of instructive strategies.” I’d never heard it called that. You learn something new every day. :)
  2. Ken M.No Gravatar Says:
    I’m glad for Valdenia’s and Taiane’s success. Thank God that he opened the doors for them and may they have a bright future with their dreams coming true. I pray that my sponsored children from Brazil are successful and the cycle of poverty is broken with them. I pray that they become spiritually grounded and the doors of educational opportunities open wide for them. And may they have the confidence to step through the door. May they apply what they learn with God’s wisdom and use it to bless others. Let’s pray this for all of our sponsored children.
  3. LindyNo Gravatar Says:
    Oh! This story just makes me smile and rejoice! What a beautiful blessing for these two students, and for those who will be helped and influenced throughout their lives after college!
  4. JoniNo Gravatar Says:
    How exciting! I love it that these girls are being empowered and equipped to impact their generation and perhaps their nation!
  5. Sara BensonNo Gravatar Says:
    Thank you for sharing their stroies with us. I am glad that the girls were able to take the extra classes in order to make it into the university.
    In Brazil, are the universities expensive, or does the country give scholarships?
  6. Vicki SmallNo Gravatar Says:
    I just love such stories, and there are so many of them in Compassion! Big smiles and congratulations for Valdenia’s and Taiane’s success! They and all of the other students are going well beyond the basics; they are doing more than merely surviving. They are thriving and will change their communities!
  7. Tania Mara MendesNo Gravatar Says:
    Hello! I would like to answer Sarah Benson’s question. There are very expensive universities in Brazil. There are also public ones and these are the best, however, it is not to get there. In order to the student starts to attend a college or university there are a very hard test known as “Vestibular”-where the students have to show their knowledge about all the subjects learned in high school. This test is really hard. Most of the students that take good grades had attended a private high school, and it is very expensive (at least the good ones that has the focus in prepare the student to the best universities). It can sound strange but it the reality in Brazil. On the other hand the government has created a special program to give scholarship to poor students, but even so, they have to take a test in order to chose the colleges according to the grades (they have to get good ones in order to go to the best universities and this is not easy).
    I hope you all can understand this. Please, let me know if you got the idea. Thank you!
    Tania Mendes -Program Communications Manager – Compassion Brazil

    From: Blog Compassion

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nossa viagem à Pentecoste! (Our trip to Pentecoste!)

We arrived to the interior, Pentecoste, with our friend Carol around dusk. In all, it took us about two and a half hours to get there. Immediately we were introduced to Jorge, also known as "mayor" of the interior, who soon became our guide. He was very nice and showed us a school for young children called EPC Ombreira, where we put our duffels and backpacks. The school is right alongside the lake of Pentecoste with an insane number of lush trees. Also, there is a community garden that grows different vegetables like onions, chives, and lettuce, in addition to mad frogs. Soon, after seeing these things, Jorge took us around the neighborhood where we met EVERYONE, no, seriously though. Hence the title of "mayor." Everybody was open to meeting us, taking time out of their day to introduce themselves and put their kickin' it on pause.

Then we dipped and rode on some motocicletas, which was AMAZING. We spent most of the afternoon at a newly built school, where the term "APRENDIZAGEM COOPERATIVA" (Cooperative Learning) is very present. Here students study for the Vestibular together in small groups, for the test is extremely extensive, including numerous aspects of study and thus notoriously difficult. That day they were studying history (some Greek history, specifically) and we bounced amongst different study groups, introducing ourselves, where we are from, and our majors. We talked about the differences in teaching structure between the U.S. and Brazil (lectures vs. collective learning), as well as the process to enter the universities (holistic application process vs. one major exam). It was interesting to hear that they thought our college application process was more intense, while we totally thought the opposite. We also talked about race relations in Brazil, particularly in the context of a college scene. Almost everyone thought that Daniel looked like Barack Obama, including the "mayor!"

So then we dipped again, on motocicletas again to a churrascaria, where we (Jorge, Carol and us) had some bomb ass food: feijão (rice and beans), lots of beef, chicken and pork, some noodles, beer and coke. After totally stuffing ourselves, we dipped to the Forró spot, where we attempted (after many cervejas, of course) to dance to traditional Forró music, consisting of three cute old men playing a banjo, guitar, accordian, and a triangle for some songs. It was LEGIT.

After holding up the bus for 10 minutes, we grabbed our bags from the EPC Ombreira and took a midnight express to the casa da avó (Carol's grandmother's house). We awoke the next morning and had a bomb ass breakfast, thanks to the avó. Carol took us to the first school of PRECE, where we met young students taking an English class. We all sat down and talked about U.S. pop culture, different kinds of movies, music, and artists. Alicia got uncomfortably hit on, really hard, and Badal attempted to imitate Michael Jackson's "Beat It"—both in front of the entire class. For closing, the students all sang "Bring Back My Bonnie To Me," which for whatever reason ends with Bonnie being dead....awkward. Definitely do not remember that part when we were younger!


After leaving the school, we went to see their computer lab across the big, dirt road, which is also open to the community. It consists of 11 computers, pretty good internet connection, and a wonderful forró remix of Beyonce's "Halo!" (Didn't see that one coming, huh?) All but one computer, which was donated by the government, were obtained from other sources. After talking a bit in the computer lab, Carol took us to the library (in the same building) where Daniel was reunited with his sixth grade class book, "A More Perfect Union," say WHHHAAATT?! So random. Thank you, Brazil.

We talked to Carol for a while about the school system here: children only do half days (although some are petitioning to change this to full days), homeschooling is illegal, as well as skipping grades! In terms of the university system, we learned that even if you pass the entrance exam, the prices of books for some majors is so expensive, some students cannot choose these majors. In addition, the university does not offer students scholarships or any type of grants before the students arrive there. So, unlike in the U.S. where you know (for the most part) how much you will be expected to contribute, here, it does not work that way. You can petition for scholarships when you arrive at the university but even then, it is not guaranteed that you will receive them. On a final and positive note, PRECE has outstanding statistics of 25% of their students passing the entrance exam to attend the federal universities!

Yea, PRECE is doOOPPE.


Daniel Badal e Alicia Facada.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Undergrads from the USA visit PRECE

The undergrads Daniel Badal (Psychology – Occidental College) and Alicia Facada (Sociology – Occidental College) have been visiting PRECE since April 6th, 2010. They were introduced to us by SIT Program – School for International Training, which is represented by the NGO World Learning from Brazil.
The objective of the program is to provide students with discussions about Social Justice, Economic Development and Culture.
Since 2007, PRECE has received in average two students per year through this program. They generally spend about five days visiting our Cooperative Popular Schools, interviewing our students; that includes our monitors, facilitators and coordinators.

A pictury with the matriarch of the Andrade family in Cipó:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A poem from summer 2008

Dust on My Feet

 I have the echoes of Ceara in my ears—
Songs of praise and hope lifted to God in her churches
Roosters crowing a responsive reading at dawn
A cacophony of busses, cars, motorbikes and burros
A morning melody of cow and goat bells
Students repeating words strange to their ears
 Loudspeakers reaching out for votes
Shared prayers from a circle of women.

I have the smells of Ceara in my nose –
Of the freshest-squeezed orange juice
Of salty air at the beach
Of diesel fumes from trucks and busses
Of starfruit blossoms promising ripe fruit

I savor new tastes of Ceara as well –
The passionate tang of maracuja
Sweet fruits at breakfast
Lemon birthday cake
The ever present rice and beans
The bread and cup of communion shared with new Christians
 A cup of sugarless tea with a sweet promise

I have visions of Ceara in my memory –
Of people filling the streets day and night
Of family laughing at their meal
The faces of students concentrating
The frailest elderly and beaming children
Cooperative movements for the survival of poor families
And for a better life from higher education.

I feel the touch of Ceara also –
The strong tropical sun and cooling winds
In crowded cars so all can go
In the embrace of generous hugs and snuggling children
In the jarring, jolting motion travelling rain-damaged roads
In the clasp of hands from new-found friends
In the gentle sway of a hammock’s cocoon
In the dripping waters of baptism.

I have the dust of Ceara on my feet –
From the federal university
Passing through the streets of Colonia and Itambe
From gardens in Ombreira
From the dirt floors of a most humble home
From playing ball with boys and girls

I don’t want the dust to wash away
for it reminds me of the love of Ceara that fills my heart –
Arising from shared faith
Nurtured by ideas and dream and worries shared
Tended by patience with poor Portuguese
Enriched by acceptance as a sister
Amazed by overflowing hospitality
Encircled by the love of a gracious, 
generous God who has given this gift.

The dust on my feet goes with me
But a piece of my heart stays behind.

Kitch Shatzer

Friday, February 5, 2010