Ex-cola has long been one of the most important and successful street outreach and education programs in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, today, due to conflicts with the municipal government, much of its funding has dried up and it has reduced its programming and staff dramatically. The program began in 1990 to protect street kids from the vigilantes then hunting them, and it has since moved on to address health, education, drug addiction, jobs, and housing.
Work with drug treatment has been central to Ex-cola, as its name indicates (the title puns on school, escola and out of glue, ex-cola.) At the beginning of its outreach work, Excola saw that it was impossible to help drugged kids, but that it was also impossible to survive on the street without drugs. Treating them for drugs was treating their lives. Excola uses games, sports, and experimentation ("what would it be like to live a couple of hours without glue?") to open the kids to other possibilities. Recently, things have become easier, because the routinization of drug trafficking by favela gangs has meant that they no longer need street kids as runners.
Though street education programs are currently on hiatus, Ex-cola continues to run five repúblicas, subsidized apartments for independent youth transitioning into the world of work.
The most interesting current project of Excola is a pirate radio station. Currently, the program has arranged for several street kids to dj and host a daily program; they play music recorded by current or ex street kids, talk about life on the street, and raise consciousness. Excola would like to expand this program into a full time station staffed by street kids, and hopes to encourage local businesses, street people, and others who play the radio in public to tune in to their show. Red tape prevents these stations from true above-board operations, but authorities never crack down, and pirate radio has a long history in Brasil. Excola currently broadcasts on 103.3 from 1-2 weekday afternoons. The station is audible in the center of the city.
RUA DA LAPA, 200
SALAS 808 / 811
Rio de Janeiro, RJ 20021-180
Contact: Carlos Bezzera, firstname.lastname@example.org