Aramitan August – December 2011
I remember the first evening that I arrived at Aramitan; it was an incredible feeling to finally be inside it and see with my own eyes what I had only seen in photos. The beauty of the environment and its people was apparent everywhere. One feels strong foundations here, ready for people with an impulse to create something in this beautiful space.
São Paulo is a city of extremes, which seem to co-exist of each other’s doorsteps. The wealth in the centre is undeniable yet on the pavements at the feet of churches, apartments and high-rise buildings are the poorest people of the São Paulo, living off the scraps that the rest of the city has left behind. The realities of the peoples’ lives here in Embu Guaçu and the favelas of the periphery are very much different to those of other parts of São Paulo: the favelas to me are very beautiful, without looking at particular situations and the capitalist system with is so hard to escape from, there seems be a family orientated environment, the kids play together on the streets and families have many neighbours close by! On another side, the children are playing and growing up in a very adult world; the inappropriate exposure to funk music, alcohol and the many problems which come alongside that, seem to take away some of the innocence of childhood.
So, when you see great impact that the Organisations Aramitan and Monte Azul have on the people and environments around them and the richness they create; it is from there that the driving forces to carry on the impulse in a true gesture of social work arise. Creating events to commemorate traditions of Brazil and Seasonal festivals is one of the strong qualities of Aramitan; it is in these moments that one sees the affect which Aramitan has upon the lives of the people in the community, especially for the children and the young people... Dia das Crianças, São Nicolau, Dia dos Desafios . . . many moments to be remembered.
The rhythm has been diverse, volunteering also at the Chácara of Monte Azul in the creche and the bio-dynamic garden, and at the Parque da Várzea, an ecological low lands to preserve the rivers of Embu Guaçu and prevent deforestation. Within in Aramitan, one of the parts I cherished most was the time spent with Juliana’s group of children (ages 6-10) who come twice a week, with watercolour painting, wax crayon drawings, baking bread, and activities preparing for festivals and seasonal rhythms. It is certainly a challenge to keep strong boundaries and hold the space while still giving them freedom to explore! Another challenge was giving English Lessons, and discovering that to teach your own language is not so easy, but managed to stumble along somehow!
From my experiences of the past four months at Aramitan, the most overwhelming feeling here is that of truly great heart forces at work here. In reflection one can see a need for a constant driving energy for evolvement to continue . . . the more people who are dedicated in carrying this impulse the more Aramitan can meet the needs of its community and its purpose. There are truly dedicated and inspiring people in this space, and I hope that more people have to chance to experience some of what I was privileged enough to experience, and for them to bring initiative and energy to help evolve this wonderful space. To continually hold a picture of what Aramitan is and what we all wish for it in the future is a difficult task, but I know that personally, this is a place which I always hope to be connected to in some way, and one day perhaps I will be able to return with something more to give.
Volunteering in Aramitan, Brazil.
On the 1st of August we arrived in Aramitan which is situated in Embu-Guaçu, Sao Paulo. It is a large house with a beautiful garden and is in some ways an oasis from the world outside. The reality of Brazil’s social classes is very saddening and very much in “your face”; you can be driving down a street lined with grand, wealthy homes and turn the corner into a massive sprawling Favela. Coming from my life in N.Z and the family and community that I was a part of, to seeing the struggles and hardships that people face here, made me truly realise how lucky my life has been.
Getting into the swing of things here took a little bit of time; however a routine soon developed and very quickly I found myself adapting to a completely new way of life. The other 10 volunteers here are all Brazilian and each and every one of them are incredible inspiring people. They are all so different which keeps everyday interesting and there is always a lot of laughter through the house.
I have a very diverse schedule which I love as I enjoy experiencing all that is to offer here. I work part of the week in the garden were we grow Bio Dynamic veggies, I also help run our second hand shop which is open two days a week, I volunteer one afternoon a week at a local nature reserve where they are planting hundreds of trees to in an effort to reforest around the local wetlands. I volunteer another afternoon a week working with recycling in the Horizonte-Azul favela and then I work two days a week with the children. Camille and I also offer two English lessons a week in the evenings to anyone in the community who would like to learn.
My time here has been very different to what I pictured beforehand, but I time I will always cherish none the less.
I look forward to what the next few months bring.