Capoeira expands activities in the West Bank with assistance from Brazil

Retrieved from UNRWA’s website on 19/12/2011

8 December 2011
Jalazone, West Bank

Boy doing capoeira“Who is the most important person inside this room?” asked capoeira instructor Daniel Vallejo. “Me!” yelled the group of children from Jalazone refugee camp in reply.

Bidna Capoeira launched new activities in the West Bank on Tuesday with support from the Brazilian Representative Office of Ramallah.

Self-expression through physical art

Eight hundred Palestinian children have taken part in these Afro-Brazilian sport and art form since March 2011.

Speaking to the children, Ligia Maria Scherer, Head of the Representative Office of Brazil to the Palestinian Authority said: “One of our aims is to promote freedom of expression and help you cope with the harsh realities of occupation.”

According to the principal of the UNRWA boys’ school, Ahmad Assi, since last semester, there has been improvement in behaviour and learning among students that have participated in capoeira. “We targeted hyperactive kids and immediately noticed a positive change.”

Benefiting the community

Capoeira’s benefits extend to instructors and parents. Vallejo, or Professor Arame as his students call him, has been training in the refugee camps for the last nine months. “The occupation prevents refugee children from expressing themselves properly. This is where capoeira comes in. Here, we are brothers. The children even come by my house on my days off asking to be trained.”

Amina, whose daughter has taken part, expressed her excitement about the programme: “My daughter is always talking about capoeira. She loves the activities and her instructor.”

Bidna Capoeira puts a great emphasis on the participation of children. In fact, the organisation’s name, “came from children in refugee camps on the Syrian/Iraqi border,” said Tarek Alsaleh, Bidna’s managing director.

Capoeira has been an effective tool for creating solidarity and harmony among participants. “We’re like a family that works and practices together. Even kids that used to fight with one another are now friends. There are rules and we learn to follow them,” said 13-year-old Muhammad Nasser.

Bidna Capoeira: Measuring our impact – Transparency and Results

One of my intentions re-posting articles from institutions involved with ‘Social Capoeira’ is to follow up the interviews I published with them giving readers some perspective on the daily lives of those involved with Capoeira-related programs. Another idea is, of course, to inspire others to really get involved with this kind of programs and approach to Capoeira. The need to approach one’s grasp of what Capoeira is and to meet community development principles within these programs can reveal a lot about our own modus operandi. In the following post Bidna Capoeira explains the importance of ‘transparency’ and ‘sustanability’ if we are to achieve the support of worldly recognised institutions. I believe we also ought to add ‘accountability’. Continue reading

Bidna Capoeira: Where it all began

On February 2010 I posted an interview with Tarek ‘Laranja’, who would became the co-founder of Bidna Capoeira. The NGO, intended to enrich peoples’ lives in areas of conflict and poverty, is growing fast and already assisting youngsters in different countries. ‘Free for kids’, a project born even before the NGO is still been run in Syria, and despite the current turmoils in the area, they have been granted funds to extend their program in Palestina, where they currently provide Capoeira-related activities to nearly 500 kids. The short article that follows shares how it all begun. Continue reading