Working in Rio

Working to deliver marketing and entrepreneurial programs in a war zone is a truely different kind of challenge. A war you say? Yes, well I live in Rio de Janeiro which is a beautiful jungle but as the Brazilian’s say it’s not for amateurs.

I feel in love with this city, and moved here after a three year plan so it was not a whim and one that no Brazilian can actually understand….

A frequent question of disbelief is, you left Australia the Brazil that works to come to Rio the jungle that they are all trying to escape?

Yes I did…go figure?

Alchemy was created with a pulse for social projects which is why I am concerned with the war in Rocinha, this is where we work  and deliver the Novos Lideras Emprendedor РNew Leader Entrepreneurial project.

Novos Lideras Emprendedor program works in Rio’s two largest favelas – communities as we like to call them because they are these are peoples homes and towns.

We have the opportunity to impact a lot of good people….so let’s do that!

The day I found out about the war I was eating lunch in a fancy restaurant and the biggest problem I was facing was the fact my crab cakes where delivered  as cheese.

While I was waiting for them to be replaced I saw on facebook a post from a gringo friend saying take care to all those people in Rocinha.

Now, I had lots of friends that lived in Rocinha, we had whats up groups for the students but everyone was totally silent.

I sat there in shock for a bit thinking what this sudden serious outbreak mean’t to them, to their kids along with their friends and families.

How do they go to work each day and will they be safe and most of all what could I do?

I started to look at my own emotions and study how I was in a kind of shock as I really did not know how to process this new news and belief me that is unusual for me…

One team member reached out to the group, but everyone was saying they were OK and downplaying the situation they were in.

The situation unfortunately proceeded to get worse day by day…it’s still continuing as we speak.

I kept studying my own reaction, I went off social media I did not want to say anything that could physically put them in danger as indidviduals or a group.

Schools were closed streets were shut down people were told to leave their houses in surrounding suburbs, but what about my friends in Rocinha…

Our course had to be stopped, and that made me angry, I went to Rocinha despite my uber driver being so terrified at the mention on the word Rocinha.

With our entrepreneurial program we teach people how to do a business plan and a budget along with excel and powerpoint training then we offer the chance for two people to win a seed fun to start their new business.

Its a four month course resulting in a gala awards day where the students present their business plan to a panel of judges.

Bruno last years winner is now making his dream happen by opening a BARbaria which is an old fashioned barbar shop with a modern twist in Rocinha.

Tonelada is an event that Bruno and his hairdresser friends created to help their community of Rocinha to give free hair cuts in exchange for a bag of food such as rice or beans or a toy for kids.

Brazilians are obsessed with hair cuts and having their eyebrows perfectly styled every week is a national past time…especially the men.

It’s really tough culturally for kids who can’t afford to have a hair cut as they take personal grooming so seriously but these boys are stepping in to bring their community spirit and morale higher.

The Tonelada boys have heart they have kind souls lifting the communities spirits with happiness and smiles as they go.