Jovens – Santo Antônio do Amparo
In rural areas in Brazil, despite a seemingly high school attendance, the quality of public education is questionable and there is little support for extracurricular activities promoting culture, leisure or vocational trainings. Altogether, the lack of viable opportunities for rural youth is discouraging and unlikely to stimulate professional and personal development. This has become a major driver for migration to big cities and illicit activities, such as violence, drug, and alcohol abuse.
At the same time, rural youth is not interested in the coffee sector anymore, either because they consider it a low profit and vulnerable activity or because of the negative image of being a farm worker. Hence, less and less young people are involved in their family farming enterprise, resulting in an aging farmer generation and a threat for the future of coffee and the productivity of rural areas.
The main objective of the project is to strengthen society by assisting young people (aged between 14 and 21) in the municipality of Santo Antônio do Amparo to become socially and economically empowered members of their communities. The region is neighboring the coffee plantation Fazenda da Lagoa and Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung is supporting smallholder coffee farmers in this area since long.
The project approach is twofold and it is being implemented in close collaboration between HRNS, NKG Fazenda da Lagoa Coffee Plantation, and SENAR.
On the one hand, there is a strong focus on culture and sports. We believe that these provide an important impetus for the personal development of young people to become engaged and responsible members of their communities. To embed related activities into the existing neighborhood’s structures, the project together with the community decided to re-activate Casa da Criança – a cultural center that was established in the 1980s by José Carlos Avelar to support socially disadvantaged children from the area and that had been inactive from 2010 onwards. The building was renovated by the project in 2016 and put into operation in close collaboration with the municipality. Since then, Casa da Criança offers a variety of cultural, sportive and educational courses that enhance the social skills of young people from the community.
On the other hand, the project intends to prepare youth for the labor market by increasing their employability. It supports Casa da Criança to offer a variety of vocational training courses in partnership with different local organizations and government entities. While clearing up the prejudices around being a farmer, the project tries to emphasize the advantages of growing coffee professionally including modern farming techniques, coffee cupping expertise and introducing the opportunities of the coffee business. However, coffee farming covers only part of the vast selection of different vocational training courses that are being offered; these include, for example, mechanics, operation, and maintenance of agricultural equipment and machinery, IT skills, hairdressing and sewing.
- The cultural center Casa da Criança has been renovated and successfully re-activated; it is now in its second year of operation.
- Community members are actively involved in the operations of Casa da Criança as volunteers.
- So far, 589 youth have participated in social and vocational skills courses offered through the project; due to constantly growing demand, the total number and variety of courses are being expanded. More and more youth are joining Casa da Crianca and thus continuously raising the number of beneficiaries.