Norberto Odebrecht created Odebrecht Foundation in 1965, but it made youth the focus of its operations in 1988. Aware of the importance of his upbringing and education to his own achievements, the entrepreneur decided to make an innovative contribution to the development of that audience.
“Education for Life should begin during that phase, when people start questioning everything and everyone in search of paradigms that will guide them and set their direction,” said Norberto Odebrecht during a 2005 interview with Odebrecht Informa magazine.
Also according to him, it was this belief that led to the definition the Odebrecht Foundation’s mission in 1988 of “Preparing Youth for Life through Work on the basis of Values and Limits.” Since then, its programs have focused on working with youth and not for them, viewing them as part of the solution and not as a problem. To remove them from the position of mere beneficiaries, they are encouraged to play a leading role in tackling the major changes that will impact their future lives.
The current challenge facing the Odebrecht Foundation, in the context of the Development and Integrated Growth Program with Sustainability for the Southern Bahia Lowlands Environmental Protection Areas Mosaic (PDCIS), is to make the region socioeconomically and environmentally prosperous in a sustainable manner, keeping young people in the countryside as an integral part of their Family-Units. This work is done through outstanding specialized education offered to rural youths (qualified technical education) while developing their environments so they can find room for their own growth, leveraging the progress of their communities.
Thus, Norberto Odebrecht created new paradigms for civic and productive development for rural youth. “They are educated and educate their families. That way, they will be new local agents of change. Not only will they contribute to this country but they will make Brazil vibrant, dynamic and rich in opportunities,” said Norberto Odebrecht.
Maria Celeste Pereira, who participated in projects in the region and is now Executive Director of Rights and Citizenship Institute, an institution linked to the PDCIS, Norberto Odebrecht was a visionary, a leader ahead of his time. “He always taught us lessons in humility and the Ethos of Serving others. He was an endless source of inspiration that will always be in our minds and hearts. We, the youth of the Southern Lowlands, are grateful for the lessons learned and the time devoted to our growth,” she observes.