By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For thirteen years the Instituto Vida Real has offered activities and courses for children and young people from the Nova Holanda community in the Complexo da Maré favela, in Zona Norte (North Zone) of Rio. Now in order to stay open they have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds.
Since opening in 2005 the institute has assisted 3,100 youngsters between 12 and 17 years old, offering school tutoring, music workshops, and training in graphic design and photography among other things.
Now according to government news sources, the institute has an accumulated debt of R$90,000. In addition to the debt, needs R$3,000 monthly to pay rent and bills for light, water and telephone.
The crowdfunding campaign is hoping to raise R$60,000 by June 30th and has already reached half the goal. If the funds are raised the institute will be able to operate for a full year, according to organizers.
Founder and president of the institute, Sebastião Antônio de Araújo – or “Tião” – is also a resident of Maré and explained the challenges, “We had 250 students. Today, we have around ninety. Because of these difficulties, we have some that stopped attending. We had to let go of ten employees. Some incentive projects have come to an end and today we are only sponsored by Linha Amarela concessionaire S/A (Lamsa).”
Tião told a government news outlet that, “We have young people today making money from photography, taking pictures of birthdays and weddings in the community; We have young people already recording CDs; We have students who are playing in bars; There are young people who work making T-shirts [but] today the institute is paralyzed by finances.”
Professor Júlia Santos has been teaching there for five years. For her, work at the institute is a very positive experience. “As I live in Maré, the main goal is to motivate these children to get educated, to go to school, because they are very discouraged, and to show that they are also capable of reaching a university.”
The institute in Complexo da Maré now has ten employees, who receive on average a minimum wage, as well as offering breakfast and snacks to students. “There is a student that the [only] food he has is what we give here,” says Tião.
With the support of the non-governmental organization Move Rio, the crowdfunding campaign #FicaVidaReal was created and can be accessed by at https://benfeitoria.com/ficavidareal. The institute will only receive the money donated if the total established in the campaign is collected.
The Complexo da Maré is a large area with over 100,000 residents that is made up of fifteen favelas located between the Rio roads of Avenida Brasil and the Linha Vermelha, which connects the city to the GIG Galeão/Tom Jobim international airport.