Brazil is one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world, yet significant socioeconomic divides remain. In Goiânia, the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Goiás, Global Peace Foundation Brazil launched a model program in December 2013 to address environmental and socioeconomic challenges by engaging residents and local and international volunteers.
The Global Exchange–Community Change Program (GECC) in the community of Jardins do Cerrado aims to revitalize the area surrounding a newly built apartment complex for people who have relocated from underprivileged areas within the city. Residents, local supporters and volunteers from Peru, Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica, Egypt, and China are coming together to transform the community through participation in environmental projects, educational initiatives, community service and other activities.
“Today the world has come to the Jardin Cerrado community Thank you GPF and the Global Exchange-Community Change for offering this opportunity.”
—Fabio, a Brazilian volunteer
“We will fill up the vacuum and emptiness in the newly built community and provide positive activities, inspiring a web of social connections and a strong sense of belonging and pride in the community,” said GPF Brazil director Massimo Trombin. “The community is really involved and we support tackling numerous issues that they want resolved. No other organization is doing this.”
Mr. Trombin said volunteers will build up three community vegetable gardens and three community parks surrounding the schools and community center. In collaboration with partnering organizations the GECC will also host community festivals with performing arts and bazaars to raise money for projects and community development.
Program participants will also teach English classes at the community center and school as well as conduct door-to-door education on recycling and waste management. The GPF director said participants will travel to Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, and meet with the cultural attachés of the countries represented by international volunteers.
The six-week kick-off of the three-year program will build up the centrally located Joaquim Câmara Filho school, and surrounding vicinity. “The school principal said that many of these children haven’t even been in a car, never gone to the city center and only stay in their small community, seeing only negative things—crime, drugs and violence,” says Trombin. “We’re coming in to bring something positive.”
The Municipal Secretariat of Education of Goiânia, the Military Police and the world student exchange organization AIESEC, which provides the international student volunteers, are supporting to the rollout of the GECC.
Another supporter, the Institute Brookfield, did a three-year environmental, social and economic assessment of the area utilizing the so-called Green Map approach—locally created, environmentally themed maps that plot a community’s natural, cultural and sustainable resources. Based on these findings, the next step for the GECC is to link a number of institutions and NGOs to introduce the culture and methodology of social entrepreneurship. GPF Brazil and the Global Exchange–Community Change Program is inspiring hope and enthusiasm in the local community with support from volunteers from around the globe. GPF’s Character and Creativity Initiative was also introduced in the Joaquim Câmara Filho school in August 2013, emphasizing a transformation of school culture and the importance of good character, entrepreneurship and other essential soft skills for the twenty-first century workplace. For more information contact Massimo Trombin at [email protected]