Semente de Amanhã (Seed of Tomorrow)
Semente de Amanhã is one of the most inspiring grassroots programs to prevent youth homelessness and develop the community. It uses art and politics to put children in charge of their own lives. When the program was founded in 1989, the neighborhood of Guabiraba was one of the poorest favelas in Recife, but today, largely though the work of these children and youth, it has become a safe and well-run community.
Semente sponsors political and musical youth groups -- anyone can participate in any group, but the majority of children and youth want to do one thing in particular. The political groups are part of the MNMMR, and they work to improve life in the community, to help street kids in Recife, and to change national policies on children. They teach their peers about human rights, using schools, churches, and community meetings as a platform. The group is quite strong, and has had a huge impact on life in the community.
The young activists insist that politics must be based on research. They constantly poll children and families about their needs, going house to house and convoking community meetings. In the last several years, violence and drugs have become major concerns, so the young activists have proposed to expand recreational and opportunities for youth, so that they have another option besides gangs. The activists have also worked to build parks and playgrounds, and have sponsored football leagues and community youth dances.
The artistic youth groups endeavor to build cultural pride in the community, stressing the power of Afro-Brasilian history and tradition. They do shows for the community and perform during the world-famous Olinda Carnaval.
Dance isnt just dance; it is also history. The dancers and drummers research the origins of their favorite dances and learn about how their ancestors resisted slavery and oppression. They also learn to link dance to the world; when Shine a light visited, there was a class on decolonization in Africa and the role of music in popular movements there -- protest songs in South Africa, for instance.
The dancers say that the following are their favorite dances:
- Makulelé: This dance features long sticks and pretend combat between lunging and leaping male dancers. It hearkens back to the war between Brasil and Paraguay, when every free man was assessed either one son or ten slaves in a military draft. Some slaves escaped the press gang and created a quilombo (a runaway slave village), then danced the Makulelé to celebrate the war that had allowed them to escape.
- Ciranda: this dance came from Portuguese fishermen, and its movement are reminiscent of the sea. Today in Brasil, fishing communities are terribly poor, and the young dancers use this dance to raise consciousness about poverty.
- Xaxado: The 19th century was full of slave rebellions: the Canudos (in Bahia), the Contestado (in Santa Catarina), and Maria Bonita and Lampião (in Pernambuco). Lampião was a history teacher in a poor rural school; he and his lover, Maria Bonita, led a revolution that almost overthrew the rich whites who held power in Recife. The Xaxado was choreographed during the revolution to celebrate victory and to motivate the people.
- Afro dances (Forró, Afoxé, Frevo, and Xandrô). These dances are used during Carnaval, and were based on African ritual dances -- to celebrate the return of victorious warriors or a good harvest. Semente works to research the history behind these popular dances.
Grupo Semente do Amanhã da Guabiraba
Rua Cassiterita s/n
Guabiraba, Recife, PE 52291 140
Contacto: Nino Josivão Batista da Silva, firstname.lastname@example.org,
understanding social services for street kids in Latin America