Capoeira classes in an Australian Immigration Detention Centre, By Stephen Jepson

Over the years I have been encouraging my students to engage in Capoeira-related activities as part of community development endeavors. I believe this is one of the best ways, I have found, to lead them to discover by themselves the intercultural libertarian and egalitarian context from which Capoeira evolved from. Whereas in Brazil these programmes usually target extremely poor youngsters, often from violent backgrounds, in Australia and Finland we have been using Capoeira classes to empower, socialize and bring playfulness to those who have been excluded because of their ethnicity and refugee statuses. In one way or another, whenever Capoeira classes are planned to empower the students, and not to serve as grass-roots recruitment for the catering group, these programmes are bringing joy, hope and strength to those living in harsh conditions world over. The following article was written by Steve, one of my students in Australia, and it tackles both the difficulties of establishing this kind of programme and the benefits it brings to refugees in detentions centres. Please leave your comments.
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Capoeira: When to help others in no longer a choice, but an obligation! 2/2

This is the second part of my interview with Tarek ‘Laranja’, a socially engaged Capoeira teacher from Syria. Tarek’s newest project ‘Bidna Capoeira’ – “We want Capoeira!” in English – aims to inspire teachers from around the world to take action in areas of conflict and social difficulties through Capoeira programmes. ‘Laranja’ also shares his motivations and the shortcomings of such actions.

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Capoeira: When to help others is no longer a choice but an obligation! 1/2

Tarek “Laranja” Alsaleh was the first practitioner to introduce Caopeira in Syria. Different from many enthralled young teachers who chose to ‘train just for fun’, Tarek believes that helping children and youth to find joy in their lives is no longer a choice, but an obligation. He coordinates various different projects utilising Capoeira as a socio-educative instrument in different locations. Through CapoeirArab, he launched the “Free for Kids project”, a programme assisting over 500 Iraqi/Palestinian refugees and children in areas of extreme social conditions. Currently Tarek is working to launch ‘Bidna Capoeira’ a NGO that aims ‘to bring capoeira to people in difficult situations around the world’, as he puts it. This is the first part of my interview with Tarek.

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