A Message for the New Year from our Executive Director
To the Terere Kids Project Community,
Over the past several months, there is no question that our team of instructors at Terere Kids Project have come together to advance our relentless pursuit to provide a sense of safety and wellbeing as we continue to address the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Brazil. We have and continue to experience great uncertainty in the pandemic, and I am truly grateful for the manner in which you have all responded to the needs of others outside of your immediate community. Because of your commitments and willingness to donate and spread our cause, we have continued to best serve the staff and students at the project.
I welcomed 2021 with renewed positivity... which ended abruptly in the first week of the year, after the startling events at the U.S. Capitol. It is disheartening to see the harsh realities of inequality, privilege, and lack of accountability coming from such a position of power. Nonetheless, we will not be swayed in our determination to change the narrative and create safe spaces for the people we serve.
If you haven’t heard, there is a movie being made in Brazil about the life of our founder Fernando Terere. O Faixa Preta O Filme (Black Belt the Movie) will detail the life of Terere, and include a lot of big names in BJJ and MMA that were influenced by the 5x World Champion. Terere will be portrayed by Brazilian actor Jonathan Azevedo, who has been preparing for the role in the movie by training with the staff from the FT academy, including Fabricio da Silva and Alexandre Ribeiro.
In December, the FT squad returned to competition. Although the kids’ classes still haven’t started back up, Jonathan Marques, Izabelle Cristine, Lara Bandeira, and instructors Alexandre Ribeiro, Guilherme Alves, Julio Nogueira, and Fabricio Da Silva were all present at the Rio Grand Slam and IBJJF Rio Open. They are in fact, trying to compete at any and every competition that they can.
In August, we had one of the biggest parties thanks to sponsorship from the FAIXA PRETA FILME. The party was in celebration of Children’s Day, a cultural holiday that is celebrated throughout Brazil. We are happy to be able to offer cultural activities for students and parents to spend time at the project with their instructors and other members of the community.
In July, we got news that Gabriele Paone, an Italian graduate student, got accepted to Oxford University. In 2018, Paone spent time in Rio working with Alexandre Ribeiro at Terere Kids Project on his ethnographic study Kimono and Rifle. His work provides much needed academic material that sheds light on the importance of community-based organizations and the obscure informal economy in which they operate. Objective academic studies are important tools for social projects and community activists fighting for legitimacy.
Last Fall, we kicked off a new English program with Nathalia Matheus, a student from the project. Sustainable contributions helped cover Nathlia’s expenses to travel from her home in the Vidigal favela to the project to work with the kids once a week. During quarantine she remained active, posting weekly English challenges in a Whatsapp group so students could keep practicing from home.
As we continue to navigate the uncertainties of 2021, it’s important to reflect on our progress and be aware of what we need to continue to be a positive source of inspiration and motivation for our communities. Take a moment for yourself to reflect and realize that you are not alone. Together in 2020, despite overwhelming challenges, you are a member of this incredible community and we have accomplished more than ever before.
I am sincerely grateful for all of you and look forward to what 2021 has to bring.