Using Art and Creativity with Young People in Rural Brazil

 

 

In September 2011, a highly successful agricultural business in Brazil partnered with PYE to deliver a creative camp at one of its largest farms in Western Bahia.  Concerned with the communities and the environment in which it works, Agrifirma saw the opportunity to partner with PYE to activate a collaborative and creative community of adults and young people living around the town of Barreiras.

The PYE-Agrifirma journey began when two of Agrifirma’s senior staff attended PYE’s Creative Facilitation Training in São Paulo.  Having experienced the activities in the training, they were convinced PYE’s model could bring something unique to the region. It was time to get planning!

Agrifirma typically operates in remote parts of the country where, around vast areas of farm land, small town communities spring up and grow very quickly. These are typically populated by farm workers with a quick following of small to medium commercial businesses. This results in sizeable communities full of complex problems, but without access to the institutions which serve larger cities. Agrifirma’s challenge was to make a lasting and positive impact in such a community, creating a virtuous circle in which: business invests in community and its people → people feel empowered, more connected and pro-active → people and their talent stays in the community → healthier economy for all.

To address this challenge, PYE proposed to deliver a 4-day Creative Facilitation training for twenty community leaders from the region, including Agrifirma employees, youth facilitators and artists. This would be followed by a 5-day life skills camp for forty local teenagers including children of employees, youth from local youth groups and neighbouring villages. This would accomplish two main things. Build capacity amongst community members involved in the well-being of young people; and empower local teens to express their ideas and aspirations, equipping them with tools to become pro-active members of their communities.

September came, and the program was a huge success. Adults and young people alike flourished as members of a positive, supportive and creative community where art and creativity were praised. Young people reported feeling more confident, relating better to their peers, learning new skills and discovering talents, and expressing themselves more freely than ever before**. “The program made a huge difference in the lives of these young people and in my own life” said a local grass-roots leader, “it rescued the meaning of what it is to be human and live as a community. I came away happier, more colourful and in awe of the creative capacity of human beings for re-invention and building new and better models for living together.”

In this successful collaboration, Agrifirma showed that business can and should play a role in creating a better society for all. Julio Bestani – Agrifirma’s Director – couldn’t have summed it up better:  “Unless we take the people and the environment around the areas around us into account in our daily activities, there is no way we will be able to attract the right talent or be prepared to grow and replicate our model in other regions of the country. PYE’s work, as we understand it, fits perfectly within our strategy of collaborating with the communities closer to us and unless companies like ours were prepared to do this, it would be unfathomable for the young adults in Western Bahia to experience something so beyond their means.”

**extracted from the Camp Youth Surveys.

 

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