Thursday, June 14, 2012

Last Days in Sao Paulo

May 27, 2012

Well I'm back in the U.S. after a whirlwind of the last couple days in Sao Paulo and I just wanted to explain more of what I did at a CREN satellite facility and my tour through an outpatient facility and community garden in the favela Vila Jaqui.
Outpatient Center for the Vila Jaqui Community

After going through all of the day to day functions at the main CREN facility we were given the opportunity to tour a new facility associated with CREN in another favela. Here, we were greeted by the director named Sonia. At the facility we were able to observe different classrooms of various ages ranging from one and a half year olds to eleven year olds. At the start of the tour we sat in on a music class of nine to eleven year olds. They sang us an awesome welcome song and performed a traditional brazilian dance. I got the impression that they used music instruction as a form of therapy and fun for the older kids.
Circle Time Activity with 4 yr. olds
Instruction with children on how to make a salad
View from outside at the center

This facility differed from the other CREN because it functioned as more of a community center. The community outreach aspect is crucial to solving social problems and aids in the building of relationships with kids, their parents and the community. This bond and trust allows for a greater ability to help solve nutrition and health problems.

Besides playing with the three year olds briefly during recess and visiting classrooms, I think I was most moved when we observed a small group of six or so women decorating graphic canvas bags with needlepoint. Sonia explained to us that the women were so excited to sell something beautiful in the market that they made. It was really cool to see the smiles on their faces and you could just feel that in this moment while they were doing crafts they were feeling great about themselves. Moreover, these types of activities with mothers serve a practical purpose. It allows for trust-building between educators and the mothers of the malnourished children, so that the goal of recovery can be reached and the children can reach their full potential.

The end of the week came up so fast it was unreal. On Friday we went back to the main CREN facility to recap our trip and say goodbyes. We were all able to shared our thoughts and emotions about the trip, which ended up being a very poignant and emotional talk (I will talk more about this in my reflection piece!)

After leaving the facility I think we all were happy, sad, incredibly grateful, and emotional spent all at the same time. We spent Saturday touring in the historic center and went to a market filled with fruit and meat. As a tourist I took advantage of the free sample policy with the same enthusiasm as a middle schooler in a mall food court! I was able to try buddha's hand, two sizes of dragonfruit, bananas de Sao Tome ( a red Amazonian banana that was orange inside and was sweeter than a typical banana), and a few other fruits I forget the name of. In the square we also visited a beautiful cathedral that was on the spot Sao Paulo was founded. It was a work of art with an intricate brazil wood interior and fantastic busts of religious figures.

I have to say this trip was a truly a unique experience, but I decided I'm going to let a few days go by that I could use to reflect on the trip before writing a final reflection..... until then I will let my thoughts marinate.

Cody Magulak

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