Help this Collaboration make a Difference!

As an unfunded organization Rhythm of Hope relies on its ability to facilitate assistance to meritorious programs working with children, the handicapped and others in Brazil and Nigeria. With your help opportunities like this one can make a real difference.

Açai roots is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sale of açai seeds to world renown sandals maker Reef to Rhythm of Hope, which is passing these proceeds along to Projeto Cultural Arte Consciente in the city of Salvador, Bahia Brazil.

Açai berries shortly after being harvested in the Amazon basin

Açai Roots only purchases fruit from sources who practice sound environmental stewardship and all Açai Roots products are Fair Trade. By contracting to have seeds are polished and painted Açai Roots helps disadvantaged Brazilians remain employed.
   
   
The polished and painted seeds are delivered to Reef, which uses them to decorate one of multiple line of sandals Reef is marketing specifically for their connection to the company’s desire to demonstrate its global citizenship.
   

Arte Consciente works with children in densely populated, desperately poor Saramandaia

PLEASE buy Reef Ah-Sy-Ee sandals (GOOGLE Ah-Sy-Ee sandal). The more these sell the more seeds will sell, poor Brazilians will remain employed preparing them and Arte Consciente will benefit through the Açai Roots-Rhythm of Hope collaboration.

Poverty on the periphery of communities like Saramandaia is even more crushing

Now while its all fresh in your mind go to www.acairoots.com to view an inspirational three minute video at the newly redesigned and very informative Açai Roots website.
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Hope for the Handicapped in Nigeria

Rhythm of Hope’s first target program to facilitate aid for in Africa is the Handicapped Education Foundation, or HANDEF, in Okure, the capital of Ondo State in Western Nigeria.   

Beneficiary of hand crutches at HANDEF

The HANDEF sponsored surgery below, which restored eyesight to a child who had gone blind, demonstrates the tremendous impact that HANDEF can have on its beneficiaries

Surgery sponsored by HANDEF restores sight

The cupboard is bare. It’s difficult to accept that this is HANDEF’s “resource library” when here in the United States, in Europe and elsewhere, access to reference and other printed materials is so taken for granted.

A program like HANDEF deserves so much more

Our own Felix Okhifo worked hard to secure the donation of a large number of wheelchairs which arrived disassembled and were then assembled and distributed by HANDEF.

HANDEF distributes wheelchairs

The two images below reflect HANDEF’s commitment to providing life skills training.  One of HANDEF’s most important goals is to help the handicapped become increasingly independent.

The Information Technology course, or seminar, is among the most important since new technology skills can provide a very good career path for the handicapped.

But IT training is only half the battle. In many cases it will amount to nothing if graduates have no access to hardware and software. HANDEF is committed to fulfilling this need, but HANDEF itself needs ongoing support to be able to do that.

A HANDEF graduate is presented with a computer

Students from a nearby school for nursing arrive at HANDEF to attend a seminar. The broader mission of HANDEF is to help educate, to help create an atmosphere within society that will better understand and invite the participation of the handicapped.

School of nursing students arrive at HANDEF

To accomplish it broader mission HANDEF does not restrict its educational efforts to future healthcare professionals, as demonstrated by the attendees below.

Peer health educators attend a HANDEF seminar

The HANDEF event center hosts gatherings for a number of different reasons at different times, including graduation ceremonies for HANDEF seminars and the hosting of visitors and dignitaries.

The HANDEF event center in use

Among the dignitaries who have visited HANDEF is the First Lady of Nigeria, a recognition that this is a truly worthwhile program deserving of our support and yours.

Her excellency, wife of the President arrives for a visit

Our goal is to find ways to facilitate assistance to HANDEF. Rhythm of Hope itself is not funded and, in fact, finished 2010 in the red, meaning that we were largely providing support “out of pocket.” I appeal to you for help, please donate.

Photo from the 1st IT seminar graduation

We are all too frequently preoccupied by our own day to day issues, but we can – and we should – extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. At Rhythm of Hope we rely on long term relationships to establish whose work is truly worthy  of your support.

A physically challenged musician performs at graduation

There is never a convenient time to donate, but now is a good time. Please contact me at phillip@rhythmofhope.org to express your desire to contribute. Every little bit helps.

 

Please continue to monitor this blog. Every month or two, at least, I provide an update on our activities in Brazil and Nigeria. And please remember, we need your support.

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Where there is Literally a Rhythm of Hope

At Project and Dance and Percussion School Didá young women and girls are the primary beneficiaries of a remarkable effort that we continue to support for the merit and impact of its determination to increase life chances and improve perspectives.

The concerned face of a young woman at Didá

The name of Neguinho do Samba appears on the drum in the image above, we use any opportunity that comes along to honor this now-deceased community leader who performed with many greats including Michael Jackson. Paul Simon purchased the building in which Didá is located, honoring Neguinho’s wish to realize his dream to create this work.

People on their way to see a Didá performance

Didá is located within the cobblestone street and adobe-like facaded structures of the labyrinth known as Pelourinho, a once desperately poor and harshly violent neighborhood which is today a tourist popular United Nations World Heritage site.  

Rhythm of Hope arrives before the performance

Rhythm of Hope intern Stephen Bailey and Reef sandals maker videographer, a guest, enter the Didá facility. Interns, when we find it possible to take them on, help to maintain our presence in Brazil since I and other Rhythm of Hope functionaries are only to be in Brazil one or two times a year.

Members of the 'banda feminina'

This particular performance was underwritten by Rhythm of Hope, which knows and appreciates the importance of exposure to Didá, as well as of performance opportunities for the women and girls there. Regular ongoing lessons and rehearsals come to fruition through public performances, and Didá becomes more renown.

The performance begins

Didá serves young women and girls from poor communities in the city of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil’s original capital, and in a variety of ways. The ‘banda feminina’ and the program’s Carnival appearances are it’s most recognized incarnations, but Didá also works with women and girls in far less visible and much less glamorous ways.

The performance brings joy to a mother and her child

When Didá is able to secure financial support it almost always come with strings, but is always deeply appreciated. Wal-Mart for example has funded six different career-skills training classes to help program participants try to find work. The future for a majority of women and girls from the slums of Salvador too often holds little promise. 

Women and girls come to Didá from many parts of Salvador

Domestic and social violence and sexploitation are especially heightened in Salvador where society and social relations are governed by a centuries old tradition of machismo tainted by the fact of frustration among Afro-Brazilian males from the slums who themselves have been largely excluded from meaningful opportunities.

Didá performances are high energy and entertaining

It is also important to note that the women and girls of Salvador’s slums are considered ‘exotics’ by Euro sex-tourism, and in their desperation are often victimized by its lure. One of the main objectives of Didá is to elevate the sense of dignity and self-esteem among the women and girls of Didá, to steel them against potential traps like these.

Didá performances are reflect ethnic pride and cultural heritage

Didá Carnival performances do NOT emphasize sexuality, and are an important component of its program to elevate confidence, dignity and self esteem. But finding the funds to make each annual performance possible is always a seemingly impossible task. Each year more than 4,000 women and girls march in the Didá ‘bloco’ at Carnival.

Each woman and girl in the Didá banda is celebrated through performance

On a daily basis dozens to hundreds of women and girls are served in a variety of ways, through guidance and health counseling, the provision of some meals, health clinics when trained health professionals are willing to offer their services (a ROH volunteer doctor from Sicily served for several months one year) and in other ways.

Didá draws a crowd

Although Didá does ask for and receives some donations from passing tourists who stumble onto their street performances the donors rarely have any way to know or appreciate the importance or scope of the commitment of this program and the magnitude of its impact. So the tally from such donations is not especially significant. 

Didá president Deborah is at far right in this image

Anyone with a serious desire to make a difference in the lives of women and girls in the world should help us help Didá, and we will do anything within our power to facilitate your philanthropy (about $30,000 a year is needed only to purchase material for Carnival participation), smaller donations, volunteerism or internship. Contact me, Felipe do Brazil, at phillip@rhythmofjope.org.

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Don’t Let it Come to This !

In Rio and São Paulo police are fighting to gain control of local favelas (slums) from drug lords in advance of Brazil hosting a World Cup and a Summer Olympics. Below is the cropped portion of a photograph by João de Carvalho Pina, one of many of his images featured at www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/violence-in-rio-de-janeiro-29

A life cut short in Rio de Janeiro

But a remarkable self help culture in Afro-Brazilian Salvador, Bahia is holding its own in impoversished communities populated by large numbers of socially excluded residents who are by circumstance vulnerable to the lure of drugs and the sex industry.

The intensity of Fábio’s expression in Saramandaia, Salvador, Bahia reflects worry and determination. I had not intended to feature Projeto Cultural Arte Consciente again in my November blog entry but the recent upsurge of violence in Rio made it seem appropriate.

An entrance to Saramandaia

Paths available to the poor everywhere are often not inviting. In Saramandaia, a little one square kilometer community in the city of Salvador, 43 children and youth were murdered by other children and youth before Projeto Cutural Arte Consciente was founded.

A woman in Saramandaia makes repairs to her hovel

The struggle for survival in poor Afro-Brazilian communities demands a high degree of self-sufficiency among women, many of whom are single parents, because they are not only excluded as black social  ‘marginals’ but also by gender in Brazil’s machismo society.

Grassroots self-help programs in Bahia focus on forming children and youth into responsible adult citizens and creating and maintaining a sense of community. An opportunity to participate in particular activities brings children into these programs.

Program leader Antonio Marcos teaches circus arts and provides life mentoring

Circus arts, dance, boxing, mural painting, drum corps, and soccer are among the activities offered by Arte Consciente, but while the children are encouraged to have fun the main point of the program is to facilitate their self-esteem and personal growth.

Every child is a potential loss or asset to society

In Saramandaia every child’s life and the life of everyone in the community are at stake. Drug gangs in Rio and São Paulo are as anxious to make inroads in Salvador as gangs in LA and Chicago are anxious to make inroads in the poorer neighborhoods of Indianapolis.

Rhythm of Hope faciltated provision of materials for the various activities

Rhythm of Hope facilitates assistance, which to Arte Consciente has so far included financial aid and everything from construction materials, boxing gloves and head protectors, to soccer equipment, a toilet, mats for gymnastics and a used VW mini-van.

Boxing lessons help women and girls gain confidence

Working with women and girls in Brazil is especially important since these are often targeted as exiotics by sex tourism. Arte Consciente and other programs we work with elevate the self-esteem of women and girls, and encourage them to learn new life skills.

Igor Pereira of Rhythm of Hope in Saramandaia

Rhythm of Hope itself has no financial sponsors and is receiving almost no donations, but we are determined to make a difference. Igor Pereira of strategic partner Açai Roots and our other Board members absorb our expenses and provide out-of-pocket assistance.

Aléx (center) and friends at Arte Consciente remain optimistic

Arte Consciente believes in us because since 2005 we have consistently tried to be there for them, but we have frequently hit up against the limits of our capacity to do so, and every American should care because Brazil is geographically in our own back yard.

Saramandaia still looks like a violent slum but it has long been stable

Thanks to Arte Consciente, Saramandaia is a poster child for the old saying that “looks can be deceiving”. But until Arte Consciente can become more fully and securely self-sustaining nothing can be taken for granted. Self-sustainability is their main goal.

Arte Consciente leader Antonio Marcos works with children in circus arts - photo Dan Hobbs

More than ever before we need your help to help others. Have you noted that we have now begun to work in Nigeria? By early next year I believe we will also be having an impact in Vietnam. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.

Aléx, president of Arte Consciente gives us the thumbs up

It is vital that we help Arte Consciente and like programs in Brazil become more fully self-sustainable so we can grow our work THERE while working elsewhere. But we need donations to provide “bridge funding” to keep them afloat until they are self-sustainable.

Taken from another photo by João de Carvalho Pina

The fates of people elsewhere affect us. If we do not begin to help more people to help themselves then more youth in our geographical back yard will become armed and violent.

I, Phillip, Igor and Alex are asking for your help

Please help us help Arte Consciente. Please make a donation to Rhythm of Hope. And remember, Açai Roots at http://www.acairoots.com/ not only provides us a board member in the person of Igor, it actively works to increase our visibility.

Donations to Rhythm of Hope can be made online at http://www.rhythmofhope.org (except in Europe), in Brazil (ask me how) or by your check made out to Rhythm of Hope and mailed to me at Phillip Wagner, 5025 Ariana Court, Indianapolis, Indiana 46227.

Feel free to email me at phillip@rhythmofhope.org.

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Visit foreshadows projects / October 2010 two-part posting

Rhythm of Hope to the Amazon – Part Two

 PART ONE FOLLOWS BELOW

Rhythm of Hope visits always focus on how a future collaboration, in this case with Reef (the sandals maker), Açai Roots and a forming local nonprofit in Para will help people to help themselves and others.

In Bahia we largely help sustain established small programs in the crowded and often violent urban slums. These programs help children and others make better life choices. In Pará the emphasis of our work will be slightly different.
 

 In Pará we will help a nonprofit forming to serve families of açai laborers and whatever else we can to help people like the young man above (polishing açai seeds), the handicapped and women, gain and keep living wage employment.

Açai production is a lifeline for people in the amazon region who find work growing, harvesting, transporting and processing the berries and seeds. Processed açai seeds are already being used as a source of clean fuel in the US.

Full vats of incoming berries, above, are being washed in preparation for processing as Reef Sandals photographer / videographer Cody Welsh records events. A complicated series of steps follow to seperate the fruit from the seeds. 

Açai processing is less automated and more labor intensive than you might imagine. Well trained workers complete their tasks according to guidelines which ensure that high sanitation quality standards are consistently met. 

After processing the açai fruit is bagged and the bags are carefully layered in containers for further handling.

The bagged fruit is frozen prior to shipment. Whether the fruit is processed up or down river the first leg of its journey from source of origin is by boat.

The arrival of a steady stream of boats carrying fish, fruits – including açai and açai seeds – and vegetables is greeted with anticipation by a good many residents in the port city of Belem, including this pair of Brazilian vultures.

Our goal, with your help, is to help ensure that laborers and their families in the açai growing region of Pará, and others, like the market vendor in Belem above, are better served by the growig popularity of, and variety of uses for, açai.

From Belem the açai fruit is shipped all over the world, including to San Diego based Rhythm of Hope collaborator Açai Roots which imports, repackages and sells açai in a variety of forms in the US. My Novemebr entry will focus on a special project involving açai seeds, workers in Pará, Reef the sandals maker, Açai Roots, and Rhythm of Hope!

 Rhythm of Hope to the Amazon – Part One 

Rhythm of Hope is invited to later collaborate on construction of a school, and providing aid, for children of hardworking poor by two men who will help to preserve the Amazon by responsibly growing and harvesting acai

In the watery world of the Amazon basin where movement overland through dense rain forest is very difficult people more commonly travel by boat.

 
The Rhythm of Hope team traveled to a remote river island in the state of Pará, accompanied by Cody Welsh of premiere sandals maker Reef. We all hope to help children like the boy below in the future.
 
 
Families there live in nondescript little wooden houses eleven hours by large motored passenger boat from the city of Belem. The desire of Reef and our açai grower / producer hosts to make a difference brought us to the region. 
 
 
ROH board member and Açai Roots CEO Igor Pereira, below with children whose striking features reflect local heritage, embraced Reef’s unsolicited interest in helping to promote the work we do.
 
 
My November entry will focus on a line of socially conscious Reef sandals that will carry hang tags introducing ROH to Reef customers all over the world. See http://www.missomnimedia.com/2010/08/asr-reef-spring-2011/.
 
 
Our survey included objectives related to future collaborations involving the ROH green team, leaders of strategic partner Youth Art Haven. Our hosts share our strong commitment to preserving the environment. 
  
 
Our hosts Klinder Chaves, his son, and Francisco de Jesus prepare to share heart of palm harvested by Francisco as we roamed the island to see present stands of açai palm and consider some future possibilities. 
 
 
Bringing us all together for the greater good is the açai berry, below, the ‘super fruit’ of a palm that is native only to the Amazon. Health conscious consumers the world over have discovered and swear by it.  
 
 
Açai fruit is only found on long braid-like strands in the upper reaches of the açai palm, so it is not easily accessible, and although the fruits look a lot like blueberries they only offer a thin veneer of pulp over seed.  
 
 
Since there is no practical way to automate it, açai harvesting relies on locals who climb the palms to retrieve strands of fruit. It is Francisco’s dream, and now the dream of ROH, to build a school for their children. 
 
 
Human, rather than machine, labor is employed to strip and ‘basket’ the berries once they come to the ground. The jobs provided by this work are desperately needed in this part of Brazil, as elsewhere.  
 
 
Blue eyed yellow-rump caciques were one of our colorful visitors. We were also treated to pink river dolphins, striking black and blue tropical butterflies, orchids and countless other interesting plants and animals. 
 
 
In keeping with our shared commitment to sustainable development Klinder plants an açai seedling, something we all did to symbolize that commitment. One day we will see the fruits of trees that we ourselves planted.  
 
 
The construction materials below are already accounted for. Francisco is still establishing his açai growing program here, his first priority. Klinder will receive and process the açai in a facility near Belem.
 
 
Cody, below, was there to take photos and shoot film for Reef to produce promotional news releases and videos for our collaboration. Special thanks to Reef for making this unplanned for visit possible.
 
 
We caught a passing river boat for the eleven hour return trip, most passengers passed the evening in hammocks. There were a limited number of very cramped cabins with bunks.
 
 
When the sun set on our voyage back to Belem we were left with much to think about. Where will we find the financial, human and material resources to meet our ever expanding opportunities to make a difference in the world?
 
 
PLEASE REMEMBER NEW ENTRIES POSTED EACH MONTH
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Interns and volunteers play a key role

Encouraging Children & Youth
Rhythm of Hope is currently making a special effort to enourage poor children (like these Brazilian children in the community of Calabar) and youth in Africa, America and Brazil to participate in an international essay competition.
 
 
The entrance to Calabar may appear festive here, as it was decorated for Brazil’s World Cup particicpation, but like Saramandaia which we frequently feature, it is a poor community from which there is too often no escape.
 
 
Rhythm of Hope interns like Maya Campbell below, and volunteers, play a key role in facilitating special opportunities like these. ROH that education related opportunities like these can make a real difference in young lives.
 
 
The Calabar facilitation was inspired by our discovery of a small community nonprofit library that offers programming as well as access to reading and study materials. Libraries are rare in poor Afro-Brazilian communities.
 
 
 
Library founder Rodrigo, left, chats with Osvaldo of Crianças da Bahia, a ROH strategic partner. Osvaldo actively sought out a Calabar program connection at the request of ROH Director Phillip Wagner.
 
 
Like Saramandaia, Calabar is a typically very densely populated community. In the heat of Brazilian summers, when children and youth are not given special attention, communities like these are prone to spawn escalating violence.
 
 
Though not large by any standard the Calabar library has acquired an impressive collection of donated materials and has been popular with the first volunteer visitors ROH facilitated there. Books are very expensive in Brazil.
 
 
Intern Stephen Bailey to the left of Rodrigo and Osvaldo played an important role in developing the ROH-Calabar relationship. Stephen introduced the essay competition to Rodrigo and handed facilitation over to Maya.
 
 
The smile on the face of the child below, in the Calabar library, reveals genuine enthusiasm. We know that we need to reinforce enthusiasm for learning whenever possible, and we know you know it too. Won’t you help?
 
 
Finding financial support for our efforts, which after all target proven local initiatives, is very daunting. We have had virtually no success in finding support and are looking for some true angels who want to make a real difference.
 
 
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Africa joins Brazil as a focus of Rhythm of Hope

Rhythm of Hope engaging Africa
 
Be sure to see the 02 September update below !!! 
 
Rhythm of Hope is now engaging Africa under the leadership of graduate student Felix Okhifo (photo). We are already working with a local program, HANDEF in Nigeria, and facilitating the participation of African children in an international essay competition.
  
 
 
Special Bulletin: On 23 August the AP reported that 200 women were gang raped, and four boys aged one to 18 months were raped in a village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 
 
Gang rape is commonly used in regions in conflict to terrorize women with little outcry from the rest of the world. Write your national leaders and urge them to organize strong  measures to end this horror.
 
HANDEF is the Handicapped Education Foundation (see at http://www.handef.org). Felix and I believe that Ghana, as another English speaking African nation, will also become a focus of ROH Africa facilitations.
  
 
Brian A. Stephenson, PE, the Howard University Engineers Without Borders faculty advisor, below with ROH intern Stephen Bailey in Brazil, has signed on to serve on the board of directors.
  
 
Cynthia Jarrett-Thorpe (reading poem below on Banana Island, Sierra Leone) is looking forward to collaborating with Rhythm of Hope in Africa and, beyond that, is helping ROH Africa foster other working relationships.
 
 
Cynthia’s Carleton-Carew EP Foundation is increasing life chances in the African Diaspora & sub-Saharan Africa, especially Sierra Leone. The image below is of the house of museum curator Ernestine Kumba, in Sierra Leone.
  
 
 
Felix is already facilitating the participation of children from Nigeria in an international essay competition for children of African descent. For details concerning the competition see http://www.lornajones.net/. 
 
 
Child & youth contestants in Lorna Jones’ international essay competition.
 
02 September: Louis Ebodaghe, VP of the African Diaspora Foundation and a Clinical Specialist in the Coagulation Laboratory at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta has also now signed on to serve as a board member!
 
 
To support or get involved with ROH Africa or Brazil contact felix@rhythmofhope.org and/or phillip@rhythmofhope.org. The Carleton-Carew EP Foundation website is at http://www.cc-epfoundation.org/.
 
 
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