For the past two days the Street Child World Cup’s Street Champions have been visiting Vidigal, a community, or favela, in Rio de Janeiro famous for being home to Nós do Morro theatre company.
Nós do Morro and the people of Vidigal have welcomed the teams, running projects and workshops allowing the players to express their creativity whilst connecting with a truly unique Brazilian community.
Today it was the turn for the boys’ teams to visit Vidigal, and they threw themselves into activites including capoeira, street dance, mural painting, musical performances and of course football.
Vanessa Suares lives in Vidigal and works for Nós do Morro as an actress and “mulitplier”, which she describes as: “Someone who works to transmit ideas they have through workshops, like a teacher but not as formal.”
Visiting Vidigal is something Vanessa thinks will be of great benefit to the Street Champions: “The kids come here from around the world and see that their situation at home isn’t isolated, which offers them solidarity and people they can demonstrate generosity towards, so they can move forwards in their own lives and help others.”
Vanessa is keen to emphasise that Nós do Morro’s work is focussed on facilitating peoples’ potential, helping them make projects a reality and encouraging people to be ambitious.
American artist Joel Bergner’s mural at Vidigal has certainly been inspiring the Street Champions. Players have been encouraged to paint and write personal messages on the mural and the wall in Vidigal is now a permanent reminder of the ambitions of children who were once living in persecution: “My dream is to be educated and become a president.”
Although Nos do Morro’s global fame has been a great success, it has also played a part in making Vidigal a tourism destination. Vanessa thinks particpatory projects like the Street Child World Cup’s visit to Vidigal are an example of how to engage with the community beneficially:
“Nowadays there are a lot of people coming into Vidigal often in a very invasive way. The community was created with the sweat of the people who live here. It can be difficult when people come here from abroad to see the place, it can be like a safari, and is exploitative. Events like the Street Child World Cup project allow for cultural exchange through respect for the people here and it is positive in that way.”
The Street Champions have spent two wonderful days in Vidigal, and Street Child World Cup co-founder John Wroe expressed his gratitude: “We can’t thank the community of Vidigal and Nós do Morro theatre group enough for the generous hospitality they’ve show us, and the inspiring culture they’ve shared with us. Vidigal has been the perfect setting for all the children at the Street Child World Cup to explore their creativity, and engage in the sort of cultural exchange that the tournament is all about.”
“When ever people come across me they laugh. It seems like my mouth is zipped because they talk for us. I wish they could give us a chance to talk for ourselves.”
“It was a privilege to be invited to the launch of the Street Child World Cup at Downing Street. It gives children a voice through football, sales a platform to express their rights and celebrate their abilities – I’m proud to add my support.”
“I experienced hardcore street life in my youth. I know what it’s like. I congratulate the Street Child World Cup project in it’s commitment to bring attention to the plight of Street Children through the power of football.”