For those who want to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa and do more then soak in the beach, there are a host of NGOs (non-profit organizations) that offer volunteer opportunities in many favelas and underprivileged communities. In a city offering a wide variety of beauty, landscapes and culture, there is an equally wide range of needs to be met, and the altruistic traveler can find an use for almost any talent or interest.
Those wanting to get actively involved with helping children may be interested in Developing Minds Foundation a NGO with programs in Brazil, U.S. and Columbia. In Rio the NGO has a football (soccer) program involving 300 children in the Mangueira favela, which is in partnership with the popular Flamingo professional team.
Former professional football players are volunteering to teach these children who have grown up in Mangueira, which overlooks the Maracana Stadium. Founder Philippe Houdard explains, “In the favela, there aren’t a whole lot of outlets for kids to have fun.”
The Developing Minds Foundation is also working with 200 children in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela, providing access to computers and teaching them how to use the internet and software, to equip them with the necessary skills to help integrate and thrive in the modern digital society.
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The NGO makes it a point of hiring locals to have a better connection with the community, but they are also always looking for more help. “Even though favelas still do present some risks, [the process of] pacification has made it a lot easier for us to bring international volunteers into the Mangueira and Cidade de Deus favelas,” remarks Houdard.
To read the entire story, go to The Rio Times