I'ts the first time that someone gave me an opportunity based on what I am istead os what I have". This phrase, spoken in 2002 by Ceará resident Luíza de Jesus, reflected the spirit of a great change, onde planned and executed with the participation of youth ages 14-19. Luíza and adolescents from the micro regions of Bahia, Ceará and Pernambuco were part of the Alliance with Adolescents for Sustainable Development in the Brazilian Northeast, a program created in 1999 through a partnership between the Ayrton Senna Institute, Odebrecht Foundation, Kellogg Foundation and Brazil’s National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES), focused on educating youth for life. For the Odebrecht Foundation, it was yet another opportunity to open new spaces to serve, working in regions with low human development indexes and outside the economy’s dynamic axis.
“We are focusing on the adolescent and investing in human capital as a driving force for development,” said Viviane Senna to Odebrecht Informa Magazine back in 2000. For her, the main reason was to invest in the potential and wealth of people, nature and local culture. In a statement given to the same publication, Norberto Odebrecht highlighted the following: “the micro regions were not chosen to participate in a process of assistencialism, but rather to receive support that could train them to produce new, increasing wealth through the mobilization of their people and the resulting productivity.”
Working synergistically to expand human, production and social capitals in its sites of operation, the program encouraged adolescents, who dreamed of a better life in the big cities, to see life in their communities, primarily the rural ones, with new eyes. The projects covered topics such as volunteer work, arts, family farming and citizenship. Considered a leading edge initiative at the time, the premise of the Alliance with Adolescents Program was sharing values, beliefs, resources and competencies to work toward a common goal in benefit of Northeastern youth.
Juscelino Macedo, leader of the Presidente Tancredo Neves Rural Producers’ Cooperative (COOPATAN), was one of the beneficiaries. At age 16, he joined a group with another 35 youth. “There, I discovered my potential, I began to see my own worth and realize that I was capable,” said Macedo. “I became self-confident,” he said.
Maria Celeste Pereira, Executive Director of the Rights and Citizenship Institute (IDC), also seized the opportunity. A participant of the Young Root project, she got to know herself and gain a greater social awareness. “I believe that this is what it means to be a young leader,” said Pereira. Knowing where you want to arrive and how to get there, intervening to change the reality and being committed to future generations,” she said. COOPATAN and IDC are located in the municipality of Presidente Tancredo Neves, Bahia Southern Lowlands, and are institutions supported by the Odebrecht Foundation.
In five years, the Alliance with Adolescents Program helped create a replicable social action technology for local sustainable development, and to add value to the accumulated heritage and allow for the continuity of the results achieved, the Odebrecht Foundation worked to found the Alliance with Adolescents Institute in January 2002. The following year, it focused its efforts on formatting a sustainable development model in the Bahia Southern Lowlands.
The following are some of the projects undertaken as part of Alliance with Adolescents:
* Development of Local Development Agents: qualified young leaders who were prepared to intervene in the community as agents of change
* Rights and Citizenship Institute: contributed toward developing democratic institutions and guaranteeing the effective work of municipal and guardianship councils
* Development of Volunteer Adolescents: allowed for the development of youth, by encouraging them to make decisions about what they want to do in life, through the exercise of citizenship and work as volunteers in actions in the community
Presence That Continues To Mark History:
Current member of the Odebrecht S.A. Board of Directors and Odebrecht Foundation Board of Trustees, Gilberto Sá joined the Odebrecht Group in 1971. Besides the years dedicated to the construction company and businesses, he offered the Odebrecht Foundation support on some decisive matters, such as support for Brazilian youth. In 1998, during the launch of the publication “Sexualidade do Adolescente - Fundamentos para uma ação educativa” (“Sexuality of the Adolescent - Foundations for an Educational Action”), coordinated by the Odebrecht Foundation, the board member emphasized the importance of addressing the topic during a year in which the institution completed a decade of work together with adolescents.
Names That Went Down In History:
Antonio Carlos Gomes da Costa was a partner for the Odebrecht Foundation, working as a consultant and supporter of actions focused on educating youth for life. One of the drafters of Brazil’s Child and Adolescent Statute and consultant for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and several governmental entities, he was author of the book Protagonismo Juvenil (“Youth Leadership”), launched in 2000 by the Odebrecht Foundation. This philosophy is currently considered an asset of the non-profit sector and moves youth from the position of the passive beneficiary of philanthropy to the main agent in the transformation of their own reality.