In her own words

13:10 Jul 2 2012 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. You have probably heard about this city that stands in the southern coast of Brazil and is the home of worldwide famous touristic spots. You have probably also heard about the large amount of poor communities that house thousands of people and stretch over vast areas all over the city.

Life at those communities presents several challenges. Residents face problems in regard to health services, education, and unsanitary sewage system, among other issues. In a scenario in which people cannot really see tangible prospects of a better future, World Vision has been successfully implementing a methodology called Citizen Voice and Action in order to engage youth to be politically involved. These young people then have been playing key roles in mobilizing and empowering their own communities to exercise their rights and duties.

In Lins de Vasconcelos community, Gleice Moraes de Oliveira is one of those young people. Gleice has been involved with the project Amigos para Sempre (Forever Friends) for almost 10 years, and has received extensive training in this advocacy approach. Below, she tells her story.

“I’ve been taking part in projects of ADP Amigos Para Sempre (Forever Friends) since I1 was eleven years old. While I was involved in a project on culture of peace, walking through the streets and alleys of the district spreading the message, I had a growing desire to help improve the living conditions of the people who live in my community, but I still had no idea how I could do this. Together with other young people, I was introduced to the CBPM (Community Based Performance Monitoring) project, through which we would receive support from World Vision to mobilize residents of the region and service providers to work together and monitor public policies. I realized this could be the way to achieve changes that I so desired.

After initial training, in the second semester of 2007, we decided to monitor the issue of water supply, which was not meeting the needs of the majority of the population and generating constant conflict in the region. We set up an action plan and organized a petition, demanding that public authorities activated the water tanks that the local council had built on the hillside, but had not been put into operation. The residents’ association became involved in our campaign. The State Government activated the tanks this year, and the population is now very satisfied with the service.

Lately, I have had several opportunities to travel and share my experience of life and community youth leadership. I was in Paulista, Pernambuco, in July last year, when we decided that the CBPM project in Brazil would be known as Youth Monitoring of Public Policies (Monitoramento Jovem de Políticas Públicas – MJPOP). At that time, we adapted the methodology to the language of our youth and our Brazilian context. I travelled to Peru in September to attend a meeting with youth from various Latin American countries, in which I introduced the actions of CVA in Brazil. I explained that the approach was to ensure that public policies are in fact implemented. I really enjoyed the experience of meeting other young people from different countries, and, even though I don't speak Spanish, I managed to communicate with them. I tried different foods, toured the city, and I visited the Parque de las Aguas.

Now I have managed to get a job in the ADP, as facilitator of the sponsorship of the Parish of Nossa Senhora de Guia. In this job, I am helping give other community children the same opportunities as I had. I continue to dream of changing the reality, not only in my own community, but throughout Brazil and, who knows, the world. For this reason, I started my post-secondary studies in Social Services and, this semester, I will be completing my second term. This is all thanks to the encouragement I received from some people in the ADP and World Vision, who believed in my ability and helped me see that I am capable of making a difference.”
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