The Road Less Traveled Brazilian Village Experience
Palm trees, sand, sunshine, surf, laughter, poverty, beauty, pain; it is all part of the Bahian reality. It is affectionately said that when Bahians are not actually participating in a festival they are rehearsing for one." And in a way it's true. The people of Bahia, a fusion of Africans, Native Americans and Europeans, are carefree and upbeat, always looking for a good time. However when you get outside of the noise and traffic of the tourist complexes of Brazil, you'll have a chance to expand your mind to see the incredible beauty and challenges of the region.
The program takes place in a little village with approximately 500 inhabitants, in the state of Bahia. The community faces a number of challenges: Poverty; alcoholism; unemployment; absence of basic infrastructure (sewage and treated water for instance); local school maintenance (materials, food for the kids and transportation); lack of medical and dental assistance; and lack of a space to display, market and sell local crafts.
The biggest priority is the construction of a community center, which will belong to the inhabitants of the community.
In order to promote discussions and to develop a more proactive attitude in the community, the community wants to construct a building which will function as a multi-use space, that is a place where they will conduct meetings to discuss issues relating to preserving the natural environment, villagers' health, local heritage, etc. Moreover, it would also serve as a place to discuss challenges the community faces and ways of resolving them.
By Building a common space, artisans will be able to:
Preserve the local craft as well as the local heritage. Boost the marketing and sales of the crafts through collective sales, guaranteeing an income for approximately 200 people. To stock, expose, and market the product. Conduct training to improve the techniques and the development of new possibilities for the local craft. In addition to building this multi-use space, volunteers will be engaged in a variety of community projects:
Teach basic First Aid Basic Computer lessons (how to send email, how to create a Word document, etc) Basic English lessons Basic Hygiene Vegetable garden (to promote better nutrition and cooperation among villagers; in addition, the harvest of fruits and vegetables is used in a weekly "Big Soup" that is distributed to the very low income families). Sign making Helping the local artists improve their production and set up to make sustaining jobs Work on program to reduce alcoholism
Projects vary depending on the number of volunteers, which projects were finished (or not) with the prior group, what priorities have changed, weather conditions, which supplies are available, and often the interest and fitness level of the volunteers. For these reasons, specific projects are often not fixed until the week prior to your arrival and can even change upon arrival.
Food and Lodging
Volunteers will be hosted in a modest inn (this is a change from the original home stay environment as the community felt this would be better). There is running hot water and limited access to electricity and fresh, delicious Bahian meals prepared for volunteers. There are also flush toilets, treat them gently though, as they are not as sturdy as what you're used to at home. There is limited electricity: enough to recharge digital batteries, but not enough to do heavy duty hair blow drying.
Hiking on the beach, visit the main attractions of Porto de Sauipe, learn wood carving, and how to make ice cream with Brazil's indigenous fruit. Also can choose to take Capoeira lessons, and indulge in beach time, surfing, dancing, cooking, and getting to know the charming Salvadorans!
Arranging Your Airfare
You will need to arrange to be in Salvador by 11am on the Saturday afternoon your program begins. The program ends at 2pm the following Saturday and it takes approximately 1 hour to get you back to the airport. The airport is one of the return drop off stops our driver will make. You would not want to arrange a flight that departs any earlier than 5:30pm on the return.