After a while of getting settled into my new home and working with my supervisor when requested, I have found myself regularly volunteering at an organization called Bagunçaço. Bagunçaço is an after school project that is geared towards keeping at-risk youth off the streets, lowering the risk of being influenced by the negative aspects of their surrounding environment like drugs and violence. It was founded 20 years ago by a local who has grown up in the community and who recognized the importance that these kids be offered this opportunity to be protected from this harsh environment. Upon first arrival things seem very overwhelming and out of control, hence the name “Bagunçaço” or “big mess”, but once you see its effects on these kids, you know this is just what they need. They offer a quiet classroom where the kids can get help with their school work, two different music classes, or free time, which all work toward the goal of keeping them in the fence where they have a safe place to spend their time and be out of the streets.
After only a few days of starting to volunteer there I already felt that I had been building great relationships with the kids and staff. Despite the difficult it can be to communicate, every day that passes I feel more a part of the community that Baguncaco has built. In all fairness, I am not responsible for the kids to learn anything in particular, but I do help out wherever I can and always have a blast. Playing a turned over oil drum with one of the “baterias”, or trying not to completely embarrass myself when I attempt to play “futeball” with the kids, it’s a positive and fun place to be.
In the moment, things at Bagunçaço seem like all fun and games, playing music, keeping kids in the gate, but it was made clear to me how important it all is when some of the staff members shared with me how some of the kids had been involved in dangerous things in their community and that Baguncaco was what helped them out of them. Knowing that having fun with these kids and keeping them in the gate and off the street, even if only for a couple hours a day, could help prevent them from leading a life of drugs and violence dictated by their negative surroundings gave me an entirely new understanding of the importance of Bagunçaço.