Brazil: Enhancing youth participation

  • AMURT is running a youth program in its own building in Restinga, one of the underprivileged satellite towns around Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil. Some of the youth are referred to the program by government institutions; others come due to the program’s reputation. The youth feel dignified at the AMURT center because, as one youth put it, “the building is orderly; and there are always paper towels and liquid soap in the bathrooms.”

    The youth participate in the project for three years. Over that period, AMURT offers 32 diverse programs that the youth can benefit from. A given program might last as long as six months.

  • Provide a deep sense of belonging

    The goal of the project is not just to insert youth into the workplace, but to provide socio-emotional learning, a deeper understanding of citizenship and life skills for improved relationships with self and other.

    The youth are subjected to racism and sexism in the workplace and general society, and need to gain tools to defend themselves, including a strengthened sense of identity. The youth should never see themselves as outcasts but as legitimate participants in society and in family.

    Environmental consciousness is developed through recycling and fostering a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of all forms of life.

    Youth culture is strengthened through diverse forms of creative expression and group activities that include reflection and meditation. The youth did a creative project in which they used photography to represent their African roots.

  • Get youth back into the educational system

    The project has a 100% success rate with retaining re-admitted students in school, primarily due to a robust follow up and general support system.

    It orks to get youth into the workforce and provides vocational skills such as afro-hairdressing, make up, administrative assistant skills, computer networking and maintenance, and photography. The project trains youth according to the specific needs of its enterprise partners. The program provides apprenticeships for youth aged 14-24 and internships for youth above 18.

  • Community outreach

    The project trains youth multipliers to build a culture of peace in local neighborhoods, to mobilize youth for constructive activities and to source out income generation and job opportunities. They also follow up on youth participating in the project.

    Since its inception 18 months ago, 62 youth have been inserted into formal jobs, with only two of them being fired. A number of youth have started their own businesses, including afro-hairdressing, baking and an afro-clothing store.