Project Seeks a New Generation of Politicians from Rio’s Favelas

In 20 years, do you see yourself being mayor of Rio de Janeiro?

High school senior Larissa Vieira had never thought about that possibility when she heard the question. The dream of the 17-year-old—resident of the Vila Kennedy favela in Rio de Janeiro’s West Zone region of Bangu—is to be an actress. And she strives to achieve her dreams by taking free classes in a community space sustained by the sheer determination of her teacher and those that attend to it.

Vieira had never talked about politics. She didn’t even really understand what it meant in practice.

She didn’t know that “a person from the community could be there [in city government].” And her perception of politicians was that “they only know how to steal.”

Now, her view is that reality could be something different.

“I didn’t even know what I could do to change things. Now I’m beginning to learn. I hope this goes back to being a better place,” she says, referring to the community where she lives.

The teenager describes having learned a lot about politics—including that it’s something “that you do on a daily basis, with little actions or even engaging deeper”—from one night of conversation at Carol’s home, a resident of the same community who Vieira didn’t previously know.

She learned from her theater group that there would be a chat there about the community’s issues and other topics and decided to go see what it was about.

Now, the daughter of a mechanic and a radiology technician at a public hospital imagines herself being a politician one day and, who knows, maybe even running the city where she lives.”

The informal meeting was part of the TodoJovemÉRio (EveryYouthIsRio) festival, an event that took debates on political and social issues to 40 homes of youth from Rio’s peripheral areas, favelas, and suburbs, with one of its goals being to train new leaders.

The festival, which wrapped up on January 27, was organized by the Youth Networks Agency, which created a methodology to help youth develop their own solutions for the favelas where they live. The Networks’ methodology has already been exported to the United Kingdom where it is used in projects in London and Manchester...

 

To read the full article in English, click hereThis post is an excerpt from an English translation by Júlia Hara Medeiros of Rio on Watch, published on February 5, 2018. 

This article was originally published in Portuguese by Lígia Mesquita, on BBC Brasil. To read the original Portuguese, click here.