Monday and the start of my final week here in Brasil. Today I am visiting two polos, both very different.
We arrive at the first polo at around 10am to some young boys playing Titanic. Their teacher is not here today but they still decided to get together and practice.
(Below: the church attached to the school)
1) the apprenticeship programme they offer…when children turn 15/16 they are offered a paying job through a placement scheme, usually admin work in an office.
2) Pupils here are given a free school meal and uniform (which consists of a t-shirt).
3) the school is all day (8am – 5pm) meaning parents can work and not worry about childcare or being home for their children.
The latter point is one which the social assistant sees as a big problem. She says parents don’t spend enough time with their children as they travel far to get to their work. One of the tasks she does is to offer opportunities for the pupils and parents to come together and undertake other expressive arts activities every so often eg drawing, sewing etc.
Before we leave the centre, we have lunch in the teachers canteen. This consists of a selection of foods (all very fresh) including the staple Brazilian favourite of beans and rice…we joke with the staff about how Brazilians have this with every meal! Dessert is a sweet, sugary fruit mix. I think this must be why Brazilians are always smiling- due to the amount of sugar they eat!
The houses in the favela each have their own distinct personality and there’s something quite beautiful and mesmerising about the way they cascade down the hillside. It’s pointed out to me the different degrees of ‘poor’ even within the favelas: some have windows whilst some don’t, others have ornate balustrades whilst some have as little as cast iron for a roof.
We move inside the ceu to see the programme. We first watch two singing classes back to back, one for younger children and one for older. The lesson is excellent with varied techniques and repertoire to continually stimulate and develop the young voices. The teachers here work extremely hard – classes from from 9-12 with no break, then 1.30-4.30 again with no break. Rooms are small and hot with no natural light. Despite these conditions, everyone is very eager to make music and both staff and pupils put their heart into the lessons.
As we’re leaving, one of the girls hands us a beautifully wrapped parcel each with chocolate inside. She says (in Portuguese) that she woke up happy so decided to make chocolate for all her friends here!