Vocational project gives Brazilian youth a taste of success
A Rotary club-sponsored oasis in the middle of the troubled Praça Mauá neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is giving teenagers there a foothold into a promising future.
As part of a series of ongoing programs supported by the Padre Francisco da Motta School in collaboration with Rotary clubs, teenage students are learning to bake bread. The idea is to help prepare them for the job market as they pursue their regular studies.
Three clubs in Rio de Janeiro — Flamengo, Paranapuã, and Ramos — joined forces with the Rotary clubs of Köln am Rhein, Germany, and Bhagyanagar, Andhra Pradesh, India, to gather club and District Designated Fund money for a Matching Grant of US$33,000. With those funds, Rotarians purchased new industrial baking equipment, including an oven, a kneading machine, and a mixer, to equip a space just a few doors away from the school.
Local Rotarians have been partnering for the past decade with clubs from Germany and elsewhere on a series of 17 Matching Grant projects to help young people from the community, which struggles with unemployment, drugs, and prostitution. Projects at Padre Francisco da Motta and the adjoining Sonja Kill High School have included providing nutritious lunches and offering shop and graphic arts courses.
“Today, more than 5,000 children are safe, off the streets, and have a future because Rotarians care,” said Past District 4570 Governor Adélia Villas, a longtime Rotarian volunteer at the site.
In May, students baked their first product: French rolls. “I am really happy,” said 16-year-old Nayara Araújo de Oliveira. “I never thought the bread would turn out so tasty. Now this is my favorite class. I like being able to see the results of our work so fast.”
Noting how the Sonja Kill students shared their first bread with kindergartners from Padre Francisco da Motta, Villas, said: “Here you can feel the love that exists in this school. You see how different this school is from others.”