Recife is a city full of contrasts and colours. On one hand, it has a beautiful coastline with clear green water, tall buildings and some of the biggest shopping malls in Brazil. And the culture… it’s so colourful and rich that you feel that you never want to leave! On the other hand, the city suffers from poverty, gun violence, drug problems and there are entire families who don’t have enough to eat.

In some cases, the two scenarios are as close as a football field to one another. On one side the Human Development Index is comparable to Switzerland. On the other, to Ghana.

The community of Coelhos fits in the second scenario. Around 2000 families live there and their average income is less than US$ 400 per month – i.e. families with 4 to 5 people, living with less than US$ 3 per day each. In the reality of Recife, that is barely enough to eat. This area also lacks basic services, such as adequate sewage, energy and water supply, not to mention schooling and health services.

The greatest challenge in the area is to educate and empower children to fight for better conditions and keep them away from drugs. As with most of the poor areas in the city, drug cartels fight for territory and the society is caught in the middle – especially the children.

But, there are creative solutions for these challenges. One of our partners, Em Cena (On Stage, in English) is the perfect example. They are an art performance school, where children from the community can go to learn music, dance and take part in humanities classes. It is a way to use the fantastic Brazilian energy, colour, rhythm, music and culture to transform lives; to help these children create a better life for themselves and their community.

Em Cena has been active since 1998 and has transformed the lives of many. But in the past few years they have lost a few of their own to drugs. As crack has made it’s way into the community, many children have lost their lives or their freedom and have been pulled into crime to support their addiction.

Em Cena believes that they have the responsibility to prevent this from happening. And they believe the children they work with may be the voice to change things.

Em Cena and the children have written a few songs and produced a CD, addressing the problem of drugs, to be distributed in the community and at schools. They want to spread the word through music and art and hope to help as many children as they can reach. And it is here that they need our help.

With the appropriate tools and strategy, they are looking to reach more children with their music and performances. This TIE project will provide these tools and help them articulate their message.