Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Closer Look at the Community...

Stories to be told...
Originally uploaded by carf
Today was the first day that our ASAS group had the opportunity to meet with various community leaders who represent the interests of Sítio Joaninha and together take a closer look at the community where they plan to bring to light some positive social changes starting from within. Sr.Flávio had obviously many stories to share with our youth group, who during the course of the day got to meet many more people like him, people who have fought against all the odds to stay exactly where they planned to in the first place, almost 30 years ago.

Listen and learn...
Originally uploaded by carf
At 72 years old, Sr.Batista is probably the most respected leader of Sítio Joaninha, seen here sharing his stories with our young ASAS. He was one of the first settlers to find a plot of land here and establish a new life working on the vast rubbish tip that catered for much of the rubbish being dumped from the mega city of São Paulo. Although an extremely tough and unhealthy reality, working on the tip brought sufficient income to sustain Batista and his family and to build up the small-holding that still sustains him and his family to this day, where he proudly showed off the first fruit trees he had planted many years ago and which surround our little open-air meeting.

Our children are the future…, originally uploaded by carf.

During their stroll around this depraved community, our young entrepreneurs got to see how difficult the living conditions are for many of the poverty stricken families in the Sítio Joaninha, where long distance and difficult access cause many of the children to miss school, especially on rainy days.

On location..., originally uploaded by carf.

Many of the families live on what was once the rubbish tip, which was closed down eight years ago and has since been covered with topsoil but has caused disastrous damage to the environment, not to even mention the population who worked on it and who now depend totally on the local government to bring their water supplies by truck. Electricity supply is through dangerous illegal connections. To make ends meet between each new water delivery, people use what little water they have sparingly and according to the size of their roof tanks or just plain old plastic rubbish bins. Not surprising that sanitary conditions are precarious and unhealthy to say the least.

I'll be there to comfort you...
Originally uploaded by carf
I'll be there to comfort you...
...and build my world of dreams around you.

One of our youth community leaders and project coordinators for the ASAS project, Djalma, warmly exchanges a few words with one of the many children we met during our stroll through the community where CARF is installing their new community base and prevention centre for at-risk children and youth from the region.

Earthen Princess..., originally uploaded by carf.

We must be careful what we sow and how we take care of it, because innocent little earthlings like this depend on our actions... and yours! We must all be the change...

Community leader, Erondino, recalls the suffering that many of his neighbours have had to face during the past and is more than willing to not only share with our youth group his reflections and opinions of the past and present, but also his many dreams for the future. Sharing ideas and cultivating relationships with the community is an important phase in asset-based community development and after having done so for the past two years, we now feel the inhabitants have faith in and support our proposals. Like other leaders in this community, Sr.Erondino admires the force of a positive youth group, because there are so many young people in his community who are on the verge of hopelessness with drugs and crime dominating their lives.
Senhor Batista is a respected leader in the community.

“The near monopoly power of the Needs Map, with its unrelenting focus on deficiency, has managed to obscure that fundamental piece of ancient wisdom now being rediscovered by community builders: namely, that communities can only be built by focusing on the strengths and capacities of the citizens who call that community home. Those who have escaped the lures of deficiency, therefore, have been drawing up a new map based on old truths, an "Assets Map".
This Assets Map points to one way of thinking about the basic kinds of building blocks that exist in every community. At the center of the map, and of the community building process, lie the "gifts" of individual residents – their knowledge, skills, resources, values, and commitments.”
- John P. Kretzmann

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