It’s been 3 months now for my voluntary project with Everything is Possible in Sao Paulo, Brazil and so much work has been done! I’m here for 6 months in total alongside my husband Simon and we are really enjoying working with the children here at the organisation called ACER. When we first arrived we didn’t know what to expect in terms of the classes and how we would join in, but that soon changed as we practically joined in sessions and learnt Portuguese alongside this and eventually were running sessions on our own!
We were involved in percussion classes which focused on music from the indigenous tribes in Brazil’s history. These were great as we were able to help children as well as learn new types of percussion instruments too! After this we were involved in sports and games classes, I was able to join in with the Futebol Feminina (girl’s football) classes and used my experience of football coaching previously in England. I ran a few sessions which at first were very difficult with limited Portuguese and having to do lots of demonstrations! But after building rapport with the girls and learning/practising more Portuguese, the sessions run more smoothly and I now do a range of activities. One thing I learnt about the culture for young women and teenage girls in the community, is that it is very difficult to take part in sport due to stigma and lack of confidence to take part in a very male dominated sport in Brazil. This is something I am trying to work on alongside some colleagues at ACER to show the importance of participation in sports for women and to increase this especially from a young age.
Sports isn’t the only thing I have covered here as I am also using my previous employment experience working with children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and behavioural difficulties. ACER also deliver a programme through an organisation called Cultura Inglesa, which is English classes for local children in the community. Therefore, along with helping teach English I am also helping teachers with implementing strategies for particular children in the class with difficulties. Currently I’m working with a young girl with Selective Mutism and 2 boys with complex behavioural difficulties relating to issues at home due to domestic violence and abuse. Many of the children in the sessions and classes at ACER have problems within their homes and school and require help dealing with these issues. I feel it is really important to share my knowledge and experience of working with children with similar issues and see how I can support colleagues at ACER to continue this support.
During my time here, I have also linked in with other groups such as the British Expat Ladies Society and met with individuals who showed an interest in supporting the children at ACER. One event delivered a baking class for women in the group, I was able to bring 2 members of ACER staff to learn basic baking skills at the class. Through this supporting the 2 members of staff, we have delivered a cupcake baking class with the children at ACER which was very popular and the children really enjoyed getting their hands messy in the cake mixture! Hopefully I will try and link the staff at ACER to more events I participate in and in turn they can deliver more variety of sessions with the children at ACER.
I have also been able to run a few art classes including doing a Pontíllismo (Pointillism) class with the kids using cotton buds! A portrait class too, where the children drew their partner and wrote something they had learnt about their partner during the class. This meant working on conversations and focusing on talking to each other with respect. I felt that this was very important to work on to build more positive relationships with the students and generally for them to think about other people’s feelings and thoughts.
Other than running activities at ACER, we also have time to explore the giant São Paulo on weekends and days off. As well as playing tourist and visiting the popular places such as Avenida Paulista and Beco de Batman (Batman Alley), we mostly enjoy spending time in parks and going for walks through Brazil’s beautiful nature. We have a further 3 months in our stay here and hope to run a wider variety of sessions and engage the children in as many activities as possible. Thank you to family and friends for their continuous support and donations to help the children here, and a huge thank you to Everything is Possible for this opportunity!
Tchau for now! x
Ayesha Ismail, from Bradford