Jun 22, 2016

Barriquinha de São João

Currently taking place in Braga is the festival of São João, which means nearly two weeks of festivities. Celebrated annually, São João - Saint John the Baptist - is the patron saint of Braga with the city being completely taken over for the celebrations.

An aspect of these festivities is the fair, with lots of small barraquinhas - small tents- that line either side of Avenida da Liberdade, one of the main roads into the centre of Braga. These stalls sell literaly everything from fresh bread all the way to sunglasses. One of these stalls is occupied by Ponto Vermelho - Red Dot - a project run by Juventude Cruz Vermelha.

Ponto is a project of social entrepreneurship which aims to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in Braga. The project's main objective is to provide to those most in need free necessities, which have been donated to them, such as clothing and footwear, among other things. Therefore Ponto kind of works in a similar to foodbanks in the UK; the organisation receives donations and then these are redistributed where needed most. Additionally,

Ponto also has a shop selling second-hand items to the general public. I have even been able to pick-up a couple of items up there myself and the funds that are raised are used to help contribute to the financial sustainability of the Red Cross in Braga.

Throughout the festival of São João, the barraquinha of Ponto is open and manned, selling a variety of items from scarves and books, to cooking utensils and jewelry. Everyone from Juventude contributes by taking some shifts in order to make sure that the barraquinha always has enough help. With the stall open until 11 at night during the week and midnight at the weekends, everyone takes shifts of three hours in order to make sure no-one is overworked.

Everything at the stall is sold for the grand total of 1 Euro which means you can pick up some real bargains. This also helps us EVS volunteers who are still getting a grasp of Portuguese. Whilst helping at the stall is really good for practicing the language it does mean that if we are confused and do not understand what is said, we can simply reply with, 'Tudo é um Euro', which as you can imagine means, 'Everything is one Euro'. 

The final thing to add is that it is a really good way for us to raise awareness about Ponto Vermelho and its mission, which is to promote equal access to basic necessities. By having this stall they are able to encourage more people to volunteer or donate items for the shop. It can also have a cumulative effect as someone can see the stand and mention it by word-of-mouth further raising awareness. It is also a lot of fun to break from normal routine and experience something different. Helping at the barraquinha is a different way of experiencing the work that Juventude Cruz Vermelha does and how they can do extra things to promote themselves.

Jun 9, 2016

+Atitude Football Tournament!

This May, the project +Atitude held their annual football tournament, which is always a hotly contested event. +Atitude is a project that works to prevent the use of drugs among young people at schools and foster homes. Through a wide variety of activities, and largely with a peer-to-peer approach, they intend to develop within the young people they work with the skills and competencies that will allow them to say no to things such as drugs. The purpose is not to purely frighten them and intimidate them into saying no, but rather equip the young people with the confidence and willpower to make a choice and refuse. One of the ways they try to develop these competencies is by providing healthy free time activities and the football tournament they organise each year is always popular.

An inter-schools event, throughout the month of May, each of the participating schools - Escola Básic (EB) Andre Soares, EB Francisco Sanches, EB Frei Caetano Brandao, EB de Real - held matches after school in their own individual tournaments to decide the top team from each who would go on to participate in the grand final. I was able to go to a few of these matches and help to referee and it was clear to see how much the young people wanted to be the top team in their school. However the games were also played with a great deal of respect and if there ever was a foul, there would be no arguing or fighting about
it, those who were involved would shake hands 
and carry on.

Once the preliminary tournaments had been completed, it was on to the grand final. Prior to this, the young people had requested a draw be made to find out who would play whom in the semi-finals. We therefore decided to make a video in the office with an FA Cup style draw taking place to determine the fixtures. The video, which can be found below, features Luís Saldanha as the commentator, joint coordinator of the project along with Vanda Araújo who also features, and Tânia Gomes, the Coordinator of Juventude Cruz Vermelha in Braga. Not only that I also took part in the filming of the video, helping to draw the balls. I was also persuaded to wear a shirt and tie in order to heighten the sincerity of the event.

It was then on to the final event on a glorious Saturday morning. Everyone arrived in good time and was very keen to get going. We began with a short activity highlighting the importance of fair play and team values; it was considered worthwhile to do this because we wanted those participating to take more away from this than solely the enjoyment of playing football. Each team had a set of words such as 'honour', 'respect' and 'team value' and they had to pick those which they felt were most important. 

Then we had the semi-finals and we were fortunate to have two professional referees volunteer their time to officiate. It had been decided in the draw that EB Andre Soares was to play EB Francisco Sanches, whilst EB de Real was to face EB Frei Caetano Brandao. The games were very well competed with Francisco Sanches defeating Andre Soares by nine goals to seven and Real victorious over Frei Caetano Brandao by seven goals to four. 

Therefore Francisco Sanches and Real faced up in the final to decide the overall winner of the inters-schools tournament. Real started the better of the two teams and went three goals up before Francisco Sanches were able to respond with a goal of their own. However despite their best efforts, Francisco Sanches were never quite able to close the gap, with Real victorious by five goals to three.

After the tournament had ended we then had the presentations, with all the students receiving a certificate and the winners, EB de Real, accepting their trophy. We also had a trophy for the team who had demonstrated the best fair play and this was awarded to EB Frei Caetano Brandao. The whole tournament was a great success and it was great to see the students so enthusiastic. It is good to think that these sorts of activities can benefit young people by equipping them with competencies they can use to make sensible decision in the future.