Active in Brazil for over 30 years, Terre des hommes has developed projects for healthcare, nutrition and child protection. Today, the fight against urban violence has become a real priority. Despite the country’s economic boom, violence is ever-present for orphans, children living in a street situation or simply for unemployed young people. Endeavouring to combat this scourge, Tdh often takes part in campaigns organized by civil society to make the general public aware of youth violence.
A writing competition to tackle urban violence
For Tdh’s delegation in Brazil ,peace in schools comes, amongst other things, through developing the reading and writing skills of the youngsters. The teams on the ground are convinced that teenagers should be in the vanguard of implementing a less-violent society. As an extension of its daily work and at the invitation of a school in Fortaleza, Tdh’s representatives accepted to go on the jury of a competition for literature organized by the Catarina Lima School.
106 youngsters between 10 and 16 years of age put their names down for the competition. All volunteers, they had to develop the subject ‘Peace in Schools’. Each participant had to put into words how violence in schools could be hindered. The jury was composed of representatives from Terre des hommes, teachers and heads of the institution. For Vice-Principal Zelia Freire, the large number of participants in the contest showed the goodwill of the youngsters to reduce the wildness in schools: “The competition was a success in terms of self-esteem, the youngsters realized that by making an effort, it is possible to promote peace in school and to be rewarded.” Claudenia Costa, teacher of literature in the school, agreed wholeheartedly: “This out-of-school activity let the kids understand that, in spite of very hard living conditions, they do have the possibility of changing their daily lives.” The prize-giving ceremony was an occasion to listen to the texts. The best of them will be published in the local paper and will be rewarded by the Public Prosecutor’s Mediation Centre.
The Catarina Lima School is located in the Bom Jardim quarter, which has the reputation of being one of the most violent in all Fortaleza. With such a competition, the pupils can show themselves to advantage and realize their capabilities. In the framework of its restorative juvenile justice project, the partnership maintained by Tdh with schools and state prosecutors is leading to the emergence of a culture of peace based on the exchange of views and on dialogue.
To conclude, honour to the winner, Domilson Alves, aged 16, for whom peace in schools is symbolized by the united front of all the parties, whether youngsters, teachers, schoolmates or friends: “I am so happy to have won! I prepared and studied very hard to reach this result.”