||My name is Ademar and I come from Rio, Brazil. I am 26 and have studied philosophy and taught English. What comes to mind when I say Brazil? Rainforests, beaches, footbal I, the samba and nuts? Economically, Brazil is about ninth in the world. However, on the other side of the coin
we have big social problems. Two years ago, I faced a dilemma. Should I continue living a comfortable life, in my 'mundinho' (my own little world), trying to make as much money as possible? Somehow I couldn't do that with all those problems around me. That's why I decided to do voluntary work - in the 'favelas' (slums) with the leaders and the ordinary people. We weren't giving them answers, but trying to inspire them to help themselves and find solutions to their problems, together.
During one of my meetings with the youth, they realised that violence and litter were big problems in the community. They were challenged to think whether they, in the way they behaved, were part of the problem or part of the solution. The challenge is the same for all of us, wherever we are. It made me think of something I had to face up to - how to be honest with my mother. It was not easy for me but I wrote to her asking forgiveness for the things I had done behind her back, and for the bitterness I felt due to my parents' separation before my birth. This greatly helped our relationship.
I have learnt that if we want to make our community better, the best place to start is with ourselves. Incidentally, I found it easier to go and work in the favelas than to face up to and be honest with my own mother.
Ademar de Broutelles, Brazil