Teach them how to fish!
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime."
...continuing along the lines of this well-known Chinese proverb, we at CARF try as best we can to teach our kids how to fish. It is probably the only way they will never need to go hungry.
Most of Brazil's social problems stem from poverty, inequality and ignorance and it's hard to know where to begin to resolve them. Teaching our children simple skills and responsibilities and rewarding them for learning or helping is the first step to building self-esteem.
After a season of summer and Carnival holidays in Brazil, I am happy to get back to normal working days with all my staff present and in action at our Hummingbird Arts & Cultural Activity Centre, where they uphold the spirit of our Street Migration Prevention Programme and where building self-esteem is the essence of our efforts through artistic and cultural expression.
After such a recession in our programme, what better news to hear than that brought to me by Célio, one of our youth scholarship holders in training, who helps teach Hummingbird’s children music and guitar. Célio has been supported with one of our so-called Youth Capacity Building Scholarships, which are regular grant contributions made by individual sponsors of the programme throughout the entire year. Our aim with this kind of capacity building project is to create a team of new capacities within our programme; youth agents of social change within their own communities, prepared to take on the forthcoming expansion of the Hummingbird Project.
Célio above is one such agent and a good one at that.
With an almost "broken heart" and very reserved feelings about his decision, Célio waited for hours today, just to exchange a few personal words with me and express his feelings. He told me of the difficult decision he had made to leave his position as a scholarship holder at Hummingbird due to other responsibilities he was now taking on. Knowing that he comes from a particularly difficult family situation with many smaller brothers and sisters, I asked Célio why he had chosen to leave so suddenly. He then explained how during the holidays he had entered a major song contest arranged by a professional recording company here in São Paulo, competing against 36 other groups. Célio had managed to win first place, whereupon he had just signed a 3-year registered recording contract, which would pay him a guaranteed minimum monthly wage of approx. USD$800,00.
Now for an 18-year old kid from utmost poverty in Brazil, who comes from a family trying very hard to survive on the occasional odd jobs for his parents and a fraction of that amount to live on each month, Célio was of course overwhelmed by this opportunity. He had won the contest with the music he had recorded here at Hummingbird's own little studio but was reserved about his decision because he felt he was abandoning the organization that had lifted him from almost nothing and given him the capacity to realize his dreams. He really didn't want to leave all that behind because he loved what he was doing here.
Teach them how to fish!
Of course I was saddened to know that we will be "losing" not only one of our youth capacities, but also a great kid who means a lot for other kids here at Hummingbird, but at the same time I shared this optimistic fisherman's hopes for a bigger catch. I told Célio how happy I was to hear his wonderful news and to know that we had eventually managed to teach him how to fish.
Hopefully, he will not forget where he learnt how to.....