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Take a bow, Julio Otoni!

The word ‘Cinderella’ was on the lips of everyone in the Julio Otoni community last week, as the children and volunteers prepared for the first theatrical performance to ever take place at the centre. The show was a huge success, attended by the children’s parents and people from the local community. Many guests returned the following night to watch the second performance of Cinderella at Casa 579, where they were also treated to a surprise presentation of capoeira on the terrace.


The volunteers that launched the Cinderella Project also organised a jumble sale and offered haircuts to the children and guests after the performances in order to raise money for the community centre. Though the project has now come to an end, the children were still reciting lines and songs from Cinderella during this week’s classes and have each been presented with a certificate to celebrate their achievements. More photos and videos of the performances are coming soon, so watch this space…

If you are interested in making a donation to the Julio Otoni Project, check out our site on Global Giving.

If you are interested in volunteering at Julio Otoni, click here for more information.

Julio Otoni prepares for Cinderella

The Julio Otoni children have just one more week of rehearsals before their debut performance of Cinderella. They have been busy practising lines, choreography and songs, not to mention raiding wardrobes across the community for play props, in preparation for two performances next weekend.


The first performance will take place at 6pm on April 5th in the Julio Otoni community centre, followed by a jumble sale and cake sale to raise funds for the project. The second performance will take place at 6pm on April 6th in Casa 579, an ethical bed and breakfast in Santa Teresa that has been working with the Julio Otoni Project from the outset. Casa 579 has supported Julio Otoni since 2006 by  helping to coordinate international volunteers wishing to dedicate their time and skills to the project.

The Cinderella Project was launched by volunteers taking part in a work exchange at Casa 579, who aim to teach the Julio Otoni children English through theatre, music and movement. Their version of Cinderella is a traditional fairy tale with a Brazilian twist, featuring special appearances by the Brazilian popstar Thiaguinho as Prince Charming and Lady Gaga as the Fairy Godmother, culminating in a lively Baile Funk where Cinderella loses her Havaiana. The play is set in Julio Otoni and incorporates many of the children’s own ideas, as well as what they have been learning in classes at the community centre over the last five weeks.

To raise money for the project, volunteers are charging R$10 for the Saturday performance at Casa 579, where guests will also be able to buy recycled art made by local artists living in Julio Otoni. All proceeds will go to the Julio Otoni Project.

If you are interested in making a donation to the Julio Otoni Project, check out our site on Global Giving.

If you are interested in volunteering at Julio Otoni, click here for more information.

Meet the Children of Julio Otoni: Guilherme

Guilherme Thomas is ten years old and lives in Julio Otoni. He has been coming to the community centre for years to take part in the Julio Otoni project. We caught up with Guilherme after a Music class to ask him about his life in and outside of the community.


What is your favourite class at the Julio Otoni Centre?

I love the Dance and Music classes. The Dance class gives me the chance to learn different styles of dancing, like Breakdancing, and during the Music class I get to practice my percussion, which I have been learning for a long time.

What do you like about the Julio Otoni Centre?

It’s great to have the chance to go to different classes that I don’t have at school. Also, the Summer Camp was lots of fun.

What do you like to do outside of your time at school and the centre?

I like practising Capoeira and am also learning Judo.

What would you like to do when you’re older?

I want to be a vet, because I like helping animals.

Who do you consider a role model?

I’m not sure… but I really admire people who take care of animals when they are sick. I would like to be able to do the same one day.

The volunteers have been very impressed by Guilherme’s drumming during Music classes at the Julio Otoni Centre. Though he is only ten, Guilherme demonstrates a great sense of rhythm and the other children love rapping or singing over the beats he hammers out of the congo drum. His percussion skills will certainly be useful for the children’s performance that is set to take place next month.


If you are interested in making a donation to the Julio Otoni Project, check out our site on Global Giving.

If you are interested in volunteering at Julio Otoni, click here for more information.

Summer Camp 2013!

Every summer Julio Otoni Community Center staff and volunteers put on a Colonia de Ferias, or Summer Camp for the children.

This year, camp began before Carnival, with four days of different activities organized by a team of international volunteers.  Each day there were 25-30 kids eagerly waiting to see what that day had in store. There was a day of sports, a day of art projects about their community, a day of singing and music, and culminating with a day of wacky competitions such as spelling bees, trivia, and other brain teasers!

 After Carnival the group came back together the following Thursday for a field trip!

16 kids and 7 volunteers went to Casa do Pontal, a museum of popular Brazilian art and folklore from the 20th century. When the group arrived they were greeted by what one volunteer described as a “pied piper”,  leading the group with guitar and song through the museum.  “The kids were captivated by the theatrical presentation of their guide, as were we! She managed to bring to life folk history and to get the children involved as well. It was brilliant, “ said one volunteer. “My favorite part was the puppet show! I got to be the bull,” said one student about acting out a popular folk tale.

ImageThe museum is located in Recreio, a neighborhood outside of downtown Rio. The children were glued to the window during the 90 minute bus ride, passing through the famous beach neighborhoods of São Conrado, and Barra. While these places are only located a few kilometers away from where they live, many of them had never seen them, let alone the open ocean. On the way home from the museum, the group stopped in São Conrado to watch the para gliders and hang gliders jumping from the mountains above and landing on the beach. Image


 If you are interested in making a donation to the Julio Otoni Project, check out our site on Global Giving! 

If you are interested in volunteering at Julio Otoni, click here for more information!


Recycled Materials Can Make a Work of Art

A mosaic was created using recycled materials which was collected by the children from Julio Otoni – it took the children 3 weeks to collect all the required material. The mosaic was designed by the Chilean/Mexican plastic artist Jose Maria “Kotik” Villela, his ideas of the mural were based on the theme of Capoeira. The construction of the mosaic took two weeks with help from volunteers and the children who worked hard to create the art on the wall of the community center. Through this creative process the children learnt about the possibilities of reusing items. The successful project resulted in an increasing ecological awareness of both the residents and children of the community.

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Arts and Crafts at the Community Centre

At Julio Otoni´s Community Centre the children continue to learn new things and develop their skills.

In art classes the children have created their own stories and scenarios by using models made of clay, each group of children were able to conjure up their own world and share their stories with their companions. These stories included a football game, a pond with ducklings and a couple, a seabed,  a forest, a desert, a beach and these were just a few of the imaginative scenes.

During a painting class the children learned how to mix and make different colors by just using primary colours and as a result found a universe of new colours they could usewithin their beautiful designs.

Also in music lessons, they were busy learning rhythms and musical notes, they even made their own drums using bottles and cans and enjoyed playing these new percussion instruments with their hands and feet!

Day out in Xerem

The children’s day out in Xerem….