So I have had so much changing in my life over the last month that I haven’t really known what to write about, but now life has slowed down enough that it’s time to update! So my last post was how the news was in for my permanent home and internship placement. Well now all of that has changed! Twice! It’s been a huge up and down this past month trying to find a place where I fit in well enough, but I have high hopes that I won’t have to move anymore. I now live in Garopaba a small beach-side town of about 15,000 permanent residents. The permanent part is important there because I’ve been told that the population gets to more like 50,000 for the summer months when people flock to the beaches. Garopaba is just a little farther south down the coast of Santa Catarina than Florianopolis was. And now I am working for a family that for three generations has been farming sugar cane, corn, and Mandioca in the hills of a neighboring area; Macacu. But I have only been here in Garopaba for two weeks and most of the time between my last post and now I have spent at a family I have yet to write about.
The golden news had said that I would be living with Lucas and Juliane Mendes in Curitiba and working at ABC Vida along with another Fellow. Unfortunately things didn’t work out there in the ways that myself and Global Citizen Year had hoped. It turned out that there wasn’t a lot that could be done to help out ABA Vida, at least not enough for the two of us to work there together. With that and a few issues with my living situation with Lucan and Juliane my team leader found another place for me to try that she thought would be a better fit. This new place was still in the greater city area of Curitiba but about an hour out of the main city in a neighborhood called Fazendo Rio Grande. There I worked for an NGO called Cadi that worked mainly with children and youth in the area at a younger level.
Cadi (Centro de Assistencia e desenvolvimento Integral, or the Center for Assistance and Integral Development) has many branches in Brazil doing a variety of things, working with kids, helping families with food, clothes, anything that they truly need, even with the construction or repair of homes. The Cadi branch in Fazenda that I was working with as I said before works mainly with younger kids for either schooling or out of school activities. There I did my best to help with everything they did there, but it became quickly clear though that I would only be of help in certain classes and activities. Specifically the ones where I would not need to have fluent Portuguese. It made it difficult to find places to help out. I helped out in the Robotics classes, Karate classes, and played with their soccer team, but even with all of that my time there seemed almost useless. I found there that what I really wanted was to work, like truly work with my hands on something real. Well my amazing team leader, Yvia, heard me and found quite a place for me this time. From sitting around in classes wishing I could help more, to gathering sugar cane on a hillside farm.
Now don’t get me wrong, I did have a good time at Cadi, but Global Citizen Year and I both agreed that sitting around in a class hoping I could help more than actually helping was not the reason I came to Brazil. I do miss playing around with the kids and learning the children’s games of Brazil, but I feel that here in Garopaba I can finally find my place. It’s a long hike up a steep hill to even get to the fields in Macacu, but once you get there you can see how amazing the view is of the adjacent hills, a beautiful lake, the long sand dunes going all the way to the ocean, and it all feels worth it after that. The work is hard and hot, but in the end I’m very happy with what I’m doing here.