From a high visibility kick-off in 2017 to an exuberant field trip by a cohesive team of students and teachers shortly afterwards – what’s going on with Project SEED in Brazil, and how did things happen so quickly?
Things have indeed moved quickly in Brazil, but then that’s where they wrote the book on which Project SEED is based. Unfair advantage? They don’t think so. With this unique new approach to helping disadvantaged youth find jobs, everyone can play and everyone is a winner.
Inspired by the kick-off, thyssenkrupp Elevator Brazil employees promptly went to work. A steering committee was formed consisting of five employee volunteers, with two other volunteers in key supporting roles.
Next, the curriculum was finalized (see box). In Brazil’s case, this was simply a matter of adapting the program developed by thyssenkrupp Elevator volunteers for use at the Pão dos Pobres Institute in Porto Alegre. The underserved city of Lorena, midway between Rio and São Paulo was chosen as the launch site for this pilot phase in Brazil.
“For the thyssenkrupp Elevator volunteers, it is very gratifying to be able to share our knowledge and help in the employability of these young people. It also feels like a worthy exercise of our citizenship responsibilities.”
Viviane Fonseca, thyssenkrupp Elevator employee volunteer
Assisted by SOS Children’s Village Lorena, an enthusiastic group of 31 young people aged 14-24 signed up for Project SEED. They knew that they were doing something to help themselves, and they also knew – by being the first in the world to take part in this new initiative – that they would be helping others later on all around the world.
So far,the group has had 30 classes on a variety of subjects. How do they like it? Participant Liliane (19) gives this answer: “I’m really happy for all the people in the program. They help me to focus my mind on what’s important and to be proud of myself for my willpower in doing the work. And from spending time together in such a concentrated and constructive way, it feels like we are becoming a family.”
The finalized program has four learning modules with a total of 30 classes covering many different themes.
The young people are enjoying the insights they receive into the job market, the opportunity to reflect on their future, and the chance to bond with others in a shared experience. What about the adult employee volunteers? Their reactions have been positive as well. They find the experience rewarding, both personally and professionally. They enjoy helping the young people and learning from them.
Volunteer Alan puts it like this: “Our days with the young people are very productive. Their interest in every one of the subjects we cover is sensational. I think we’re already reaping good fruit!” Those subjects include ethics, gender inequality, on-the-job safety, sustainability, and the types of professions available to young people in their situation.
“The course today was really great; I liked it really much – the courses just keep getting better and better. And everyone here is helping to make the courses more enjoyable: You are all such wonderful people. Before, I was very discouraged, but this project is motivating me. You guys are so cool!”
Arian, 19, Project SEED participant
After a month of intense classwork, the group took a trip. The trip was built on what they had already achieved, and reinforced the pleasure and rewards of doing things as a team.
The group went on a cultural tour of São Paulo. It’s only 190 kilometers away from Lorena but many of the young people have not had much of a chance to travel. Employee volunteers organized the activities, starting with a visit to one of Brazil’s most important museums, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
After that, the group visited the Japan House, where three floors of shows and artistic performances give a virtual immersion into the culture of a faraway land. The day ended with a visit to the São Paulo Mall and tickets to the Brazilian film premiere of “Avengers: Infinity War.”
According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), around 28.8% of 18- to 24-year-olds in Brazil were unemployed. Research shows that getting the first job is the decisive event, and lack of experience is the main challenge.
The aim of Project SEED is to ensure that young people without a lot of other resources get the needed experience. Through this, they too can become responsible, independent adults. In Brazil, 31 young people and 15 thyssenkrupp Elevator employee volunteers are dedicated to pioneering a new approach to the challenge, and helping to create a new solution for a global problem.
Active in Brazil for 50 years, SOS Children’s Villages works for children through a variety of programs and initiatives. Areas of support include early childhood development, parenting, young mothers, youth employment, nutrition support, daycare/childcare and more.To the project