By Bhamika Bhudia, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Onda Solidaria, a charity started by a Carioca after living in the UK for almost ten years, supported an event in Morro Azul last Saturday to clean up and develop the community. The favela in Flamengo was once considered one of the more dangerous in Zona Sul (South zone), before the UPP (Police Pacification Units) pacified the area in October.
The day-long event included tree planting, samba, capoeira, and graffiti, and was deemed a success by locals and the organizations that supported them alike.
Ricardo Calcado, founder of Onda Solidaria (known as Children’s Aid in the UK), stressed “It was the young people who decided to hold this event. It was their idea … the main thing is, that we want them to have the confidence to run projects like this by themselves.”
Calcado, who was born in Rio, has taken the charity which he started in 2004, across oceans and borders, branching out to the youth in the UK, Spain, Japan and Africa over the last six years.
The focus is raising awareness of the issues and dangers children in Brazil face on a daily basis. His journey has led him to be involved in and organize high profile football matches in the UK, Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in Japan and cultural exchanges across these countries.
Within Brazil, across different states, Onda Solidaria has run several projects ranging from helping and supporting orphanages, educating the poor on hygiene and sanitation, helping people obtain basic identity documentation, and assisting those struck by extreme weather, like the locals in São Gonçalo after the mudslides.
The project Calcado is occupied with at the moment, and the cause behind Saturday’s event is Programma Transforma, which runs workshops preparing fourteen to eighteen year-olds for their first jobs and life in general.
According to Calcado, “Programma Transforma prepares young people for work and to be social entrepreneurs. We work with children and young people from different favelas and the idea behind this is to multiply the actions, to expand on the idea that they can contribute to their own community.”
Alan Feitoza, seventeen, one of the organizers who has been working with Programma Transforma for three months stressed the importance of the youth getting involved to enrich their own lives. “We need more projects to encourage children and young people to look after nature … We need to break the barriers between the streets and the favelas because Rio is still divided.”
The push and support from the charity has even led to local government involvement with COMLURB (Companhia Municipal de Limpeza Urbana), who takes care of sanitation in the city, arriving before the event to clean up the area, something long awaited in the community.
Calcado is confident that “This is merely the kick off of greater things to come” and that we will see more and more progression, development and action from this generation.