Marlon, age 10, lives in Aglomerado da Serra, a sprawling hillside favela outside the Brazilian metropolis Belo Horizonte. Quiet by nature, he never used to interact much with other children. With its razor wire, broken glass, gangs, garbage and poverty, ‘Serra’, isn’t exactly a safe place to make friends.
Last year all that changed when Marlon began attending ChildFund Brazil’s PhotoVoices class, a project offered through our local partner organization Conselho de Pais Criança Feliz. “I learned many things, and I had a lot of fun,” says Marlon. “The classes helped me figure out who I want to be in the future and how to make new friends.”
Through a lens, Marlon began to see ‘Serra’ in a new light. “I like to photograph areas typical of my neighbourhood, such as the alleyways, because of all the different people, colours and interactions.”
Marlon wins fifth place in his first competition
Along with his fellow students, he entered this year’s state photography competition and, amazingly, won fifth place in the amateur category. His shot of three boys playing soccer in an alley fits perfectly with the contest’s theme, ‘The Sociocultural Impact of Soccer: The World Outside the Common Orbit.’ It’s a sunlit moment of simple joy, shared in a small space amid haphazard electrical wires, corrugated metal roofs and dark corners outside the frame of the photo.
The facilitator of PhotoVoices in ‘Serra’, Jorge Quintão, explains that the project has helped make students more communicative and positively changed the way they perceive their environment. “Photography has given meaning to the lives of these children, and the contest is a culmination of everything that they have learned and experienced.”
Marlon agrees. “To participate in the photography contest was a very important experience in my life To get fifth place in the contest in which all of the state had participated was very emotional and unexpected, and it made me very happy.”
Why are projects like this so important?
ChildFund believes in supporting children so that when they reach adulthood, they can not only support themselves, but also help to create further positive change in their societies.
These future leaders will need to be not only healthy and educated, but to be engaged in their communities and to possess the creativity and confidence to devise new solutions and speak their mind. Initiatives like PhotoVoices in Brazil do just that – you only have to speak to Marlon to see the difference participating in the project has made to his confidence, his self-belief and his outlook on life.
If you would like to help more children like Marlon realise their talents and become agents of change in their communities, you can make an online donation today or call us free on 1800 22 10 10.