Julio Otoni is a small low income community (favela) with approximately inhabitants in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As in other poor areas of Rio de Janeiro, the area has been heavily affected over the years by the presence of criminal gangs, drugs and guns. Due to the extreme conditions of poverty and lack of occupational alternatives in the community, it is not at all unusual for children as young as twelve and thirteen to become involved with the gang culture as well as dealing with other social problems such as teenage pregnancy, lack of schooling and illiteracy, lack of professional qualifications and the absence of basic social values. All these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty.
The good news is that since 2004 this situation which is so common in Rio de Janeiro is changing. A group of organizations and individuals led by REDEH (Network for Human Development ), CEMINA ( Communication, Education and Information on Gender), Instituto Polen and the Jinga Project are currently engaged in a collaborative named The Julio Otoni Project. Our vision is to get to a stage in which this positive change in the community can be sustainable without outside help.
To read more about the history of the Julio Otoni Favela, click here
REDEH and CEMINA are two NGOs based in Rio de Janeiro, developing programs that foster empowerment of underserved communities. They enhance the role of women and youth as change agents of their own realities. REDEH/CEMINA have years of experience of implementing innovative social and environmental projects. In 2004, REDEH/CEMINA have engaged in the process of helping the Julio Otoni community to become pro-active in the face of their increasing problems. Many things have happened since then, starting with the purchase of an old property in the middle of the favela. This new Community Center has become the hub of many activities that have been developed in the last years The out-of-school activity programme for children between the ages of and being the most important one. The objective of the programme is to offer local young people alternative activities after school and especially in the school holidays (a time when they would otherwise spend all their free time on the streets) such as Educational Support, English, Capoeira, Computing and Environmental Education.
Many other organizations and individuals have joined REDEH and CEMINA in the effort of transforming the “Julio Otoni favela into a real community”. Since its set up, the project has gone from strength to strength. It now has regular attendees, and a computer room. The project has made a difference that is instantly visible in many of the children that use the facilities.