Tchau Frutos de Maes

Salvador da Bahia Travel Blog

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The poster I made for the class with paper cutouts and pictures. One of my roommates described it as "cheesy but cute."
On Thursday night, most people went out, but I stayed in with Romy and a few others. It was nice to have a quiet house. The few of us in the house hung out in the family room and talked while I finished the poster for my class. As I was sitting in the family room, through the window I could hear the sounds of live acoustic music coming from one of the tiny bars on the street below. It was a man playing his guitar and singing beautiful music to a small audience. I love the sounds of Bahia, there is music everywhere- forro parties on front porches, sound systems on cars blasting hip hop and reggae as they drive by, and pounding drums in the streets. I once even saw a man strumming his guitar and singing as he walked down the street. It was like a scene straight out of the movie Woman on Top.

On Friday, I walked into the class and the kids chanted "Tia, Tia, Tia, heeey!" It was so cute. I think Kassia (the teacher) had them do that for my last day. I had plenty of cookies and candy for them and as always, they were happy to recieve it. We had kind of an informal day and let the kids run around more than usual. I hung up the poster and the wall clock and they all cheered and clapped. In a world without portable dvd players, it amazing how easily amused kids can be.

As usual at lunchtime, the volunteers got the kids' meals from the kitchen and brought them to the classrooms. The past couple weeks we had noticed that the cooks were dishing out smaller and smaller portions of the food. On my last day there was barely any food and it was so sad. It's nice to think that someone could write a check and solve their problems, but when you get inside you see it's much more complex than that. It can be sad to leave a short term volunteer assignment because you feel like you just barely scratched the surface. But I would definitely do it again and I feel like now that I've done it, I'll be more prepared next time.

When it was time to leave, I said goodbye to Kassia and each kid individually and tried not to cry. The kids always knew I was headed back to the house when I collected my bag with activities so they said their last collective "Tchaauuu!" as I grabbed my things. I said goodbye to the principal and the cooks and the gaurd at the gate and was an emotional wreck as soon as I stepped in the van.

There was so much I would miss about my days there. I woke up every morning happy to go to Frutos de Maes. I loved the drive along the bay and the interesting things to see in the favela. The gaurd at Frutos greeted us everyday with a warm smile. When I walked into class, the kids were excited to see me and always tried to peek in my bag to see what activities I brought for them that day. The older kids at the school would walk up to me and say "Americana?" And then they would happily recite numbers for me in English taught to them by other volunteers. There were a lot of little things that added up to a very rewarding experience.

I saw so much talent and potential in some of the kids and I hope they have opportunities to pursue their dreams when they get older. You can just hope that they will some how break out of the cycle and move beyond their circumstances. The gap between rich and poor and its correlation to race is obvious, but Bahia is such a vibrant and hopeful place. I think there, they believe that if you can walk, you can samba and do capoeira. They expose kids to their culture at a young age and they are proud of it and want to share it with others. There are several performing arts organizations aimed at getting kids off the street and into a productive activity. I know that not everyone can be saved, but there are some kids that just need to be involved in something that they can be proud of in order to steer them in the right direction. Every little bit of encouragement helps. I took so much from the experience and even if it was small, I think I was able to give something valuable to the kids while I was there!
newtampo says:
Sometimes it's easy to say Hello but hard to say goodbye. In the future, hope the kids meet someone like you.
Posted on: Jun 13, 2007
crystalware says:
This was a beautiful entry...I really enjoyed reading it.
Posted on: Jun 13, 2007
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The poster I made for the class wi…
The poster I made for the class w…