Our partners in Porto

They like to envision and dream just as much as we do: our friends from Porto/Piauí. Around 80 young people aged 14 to 25 and three adult coordinators shape the project in Brazil.

The official partner of Brasil09 is the Kolping Community in Porto. The members of this group support each other and others according to the principle of help for self-help. The young people participating in our project do not need to be part of the Kolping Family, they are however chosen by its members. The criteria look at the family’s income, if they go to school regularly and whether they take action for others.

One could not tell the poverty of many of the young people in Porto by simply looking at them. They have enough to eat, clean cloths and look well-groomed. It seems as if they were laughing the entire day. But when we visit them at home, we often see simple mud houses with three or four rooms. Most of our friends have many brothers and sisters with whom they share a room. But if you ask them about their problems it is rarely monetary matters that come to their minds.

The young people’s greatest concern are their chances of getting a job. The education standards of the public schools are rather poor. The teachers did not experience well-grounded education and often the parents cannot read and write well enough to help their children. In the rainy season the older students do not have school because of power cuts. The pupils are taught in three shifts a day, the oldest ones in the evening when it is already dark outside. These are just some examples of how difficult it is to get a good primary and secondary education. Furthermore, there are many students without any motivation to learn. Who is not able to go to university like most people from Porto may become a shop assistant, construction worker, fisher or farmer. Professions which are thought of as unattractive: hard work, low income, bad image.

It is especially hard for girls who become mothers at the age of 15, 16 or 17. This is not uncommon in Porto. The girls drop out of school to take care of their children, often left alone by their boyfriends. There are many young mothers who have to feed their family on their own and children not knowing their father. The older brothers and sisters have to work to contribute to the family income. In other families there are problems like domestic violence, sexual abuse, drugs and alcohol.

The North-East of Brazil

Brazil is the country of contradictions and superlative. In the highly developed South the economy booms while the North and North-East display standards of a developing country. The money of foreign investors only goes to the south. The infrastructure in the north-east is insufficient; there are no trains and hardly any big harbours or airports. The tourists stay by the coast. The inland region attracts neither entrepreneurs nor foreigners.

These vast regional differences make the developing process even more difficult. Many young Brazilians go to the countries’ metropolises in need for work. When a student passes the entrance examination of a university he still needs money to pay the rent in the city, or relatives with whom he can stay. After successful graduation there are only very few reasons to go back to the home village.

About 30% of Brazil’s population live in the North-East which makes up a fifth of the countries surface. More than half of Brazil’s poorest people live here, far away from the large cities. The North-East is marked by the consequences of slavery which was stopped there only in the late 19th century. Long dry seasons of up to eleven months further impede agriculture. Only during rainy season in March does the countryside turn green.

The town of Porto

Porto is a small town with 22,000 inhabitants. It is located in the West of the state of Piauí, next to the river Parnaíba, a natural border to the state of Maranhao. In Porto you can cross the river only by a small ferry which can transport people, bikes and motorbikes. There are not many tourists or travellers passing through Porto for that reason.