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.
Axé! Eurico. Continue reading

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.

Creating a sustainable Capoeira programme in England; by ‘Dedicado’

In this post ‘Dedicado’ share with the community development-oriented capoeiras his experience in setting a not-for-profit Capoeira organisation in England. The post is an inspiring testimonial (with a twist of a ‘how to’) from a student with over 10 years of experience in community development. The programme Dedicado mentions is still been run in England. As for him, he’s up to new ventures supporting the awesome Capoeira community of New Zealand. Continue reading