From stigma to esteem

brasilobserver - Jul 20 2015
The plan begins with a documentary about training kids in a poor community in Recife, in the northeast of Brazil (Photo: Juana Carvalho)

(Leia em Português)

Bottom-up, social change plans driven through critical thinking development and image making skills for poor children around the world


By Alicia Bastos*

These days we are so used to taking pictures and looking at them online, but can we remember when we first discovered a camera and how that changed our lives?

Disadvantaged children all over the globe, particularly in urban areas, are neglected by society, discriminated and have very limited opportunities to develop skills to succeed in life. Inequality is a world growing issue, and in Brazil, despite the past economic boom and the poverty numbers that were 10% of the population in 2013 (World Bank data), poverty is still widespread in urban and rural areas. Even if numbers have decreased over the past decade, in 2014 the government announced that extreme poverty numbers grew from 10.08 million in 2012 to 10.45 million in 2013, while the population climbed from 195 million in 2010 to 203 million in 2015.

While nurseries, schools and jobs have been the focus of the government plans to fight poverty, young people and kids lack practical and useful skills that can engage them in technical training and professional opportunities.

The Brazilian anthropologist and filmmaker Giselle Oliveira founded Eyes of the Street, together with Brazilian journalist Daniel Meirinho PHD, who is a specialist on youth culture and digital media with a social focus, are embarking on a mission to transform how poor children in Brazil and all over the globe learn about photographic and filming skills, as well as developing critical thinking. On top of the local project, the objective is to create an online platform where the children can share their stories.

“Poverty and inequality may be concepts of our time. But so are creativity and innovation. We believe that everyone is capable of creating change, when empowered from tools that enhance their voices and nurture their human potential,” says Giselle Oliveira.

The plan begins with a documentary of the first training kids in a poor community in Recife, a critical area in the northeast of Brazil, and then uses this documentary to gain attention and funds to travel the world, training children in other disadvantaged communities.

Projects like these have been done before, the model is tested and it works. A good example is the memorable Oscar winning documentary Born Into Brothels: Calcutta’s Red Light Kids (2004) or in Brazil the project Videos nas Aldeias (Videos in the Villages) that forms indigenous photographers and filmmakers such as Takumã Kuikuro, who was recently in London filming his most recent project.

Outcomes of social enterprises such as those could be miraculous, not only it will give children a skill that could later be developed into a professional activity, but also given them the opportunity to share their stories with people who have no idea about the difficult life they have, and hopefully this can be a solid step against inequality, working compassion and awareness, deep roots of social change.

“We believe the way to tackle urban poverty sustainably is to empower communities to enable locally-led transformation,” explains Giselle.

Another key mission of Eyes of the Street is the development of critical thinking and creativity together, turning poor communities into hubs of creativity and innovation. These children won’t have the chance to progress skills like these on basic schools. Image making skills are essential to be part of a virtual world that has changed the way we communicate, the access to the globe as an audience can be really important to mobilise bottom-up strategies for social changes.

Eyes of the Street is doing a crowd-funding campaign to produce the documentary in 2015. The documentary is expected to be launched in Recife, capital of Pernambuco, London and international festivals and official launch in 2016. To support, access


*Alicia Bastos is founder of Braziliarty (


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