Project transforms the future of isolated communities using cell phones
Salvador da Bahia, Brazil – August 31, 2013
On July 31, the VOJO project, a communication training program for young people in isolated black communities, began in 9 quilombos (communities created by freed slaves) near Salvador, Brazil.
Twice a week, members of Midia Etnica takes a bus, a shuttle and then a boat to give a VOJO training to more than 20 young people ages 16 to 30. Once the classroom settles, the training starts. Beyond the VOJO project, a lot of themes are tackled with the participants: communication, of course, but also government and human rights. The young people learn how to express themselves and to be self-confident doing it. Class after class, they feel more and more convinced that they can be respected and highly regarded sources of information. After several weeks of VOJO training, they begin to broach topics such as education, security, health, and pollution, among other more local issues (like exceptionally high tide or road construction). None of them misses an opportunity to give his or her opinion.
That is why the community expects so much from the VOJO project. “We want our kids to help us to defend the communities’ rights and interests”, explains Eliete Paraguassu, the local organization manager. “By taking part in this project, they get to know each other better and, later, will be more inclined to work together as a strong team. Plus, Midia Etnica, through the VOJO project, helps us to make them responsible and give them a political conscience and a social presence. This is really important for the future of our nine communities.”
The young people already perfectly understand their interest in the VOJO project. Coming back from school, two of them heard that the boat fee they pay daily to go to school would increase. Furious, they dialed the VOJO number to record an interview with the boat’s owner. “We wanted to know more about it and share the information. Most people here did not know anything about this fee. It ended up that it increased because of the municipality… People should know that, shouldn’t they?” asked Laura, one of the youngest interns.
As the training finished, the young people got ready to use the concepts they learned by participating in the Third Interstate Promoting Racial Equality Conference. There, they interviewed local leaders and told them what they expected from them – a good way to use the VOJO technology and to concretely realize its potential.
What’s the next step? The young people hope to get one computer for the 9 communities and learn how to edit the news they record. In doing so, they will become the perfect actors to spread the VOJO technology to other isolated places, contribute to broadcasting minorities’ perspective, and who knows, maybe even use the skills they acquired to find a respectable job… a dream of theirs.
What is the VOJO technology?
You don’t have Internet but you have plenty of things to broadcast? The Center for Civic Media of MIT, a prestigious university in Boston, created an amazing technology: VOJO. With only a cell phone, you can broadcast news on the Internet. Dial the VOJO phone number, press 1 and record what you want to be broadcasted. Once you finish, press # to send it to a main website. Your content is available to everyone online. You can also send photos by text message.
Correio Nagô is a news portal created by young Black communicators from Mídia Étnica. It aims to combat economic and racial exclusion and discrimination that still exist in Brazil by encouraging a collaborative participation by its large readership via its website and creating a network of news sourced throughout Brazil and the world.
Another mission of our social nework is to establish a news channel about Black culture – helping to diffuse content produced by different communities and activist groups from the Black Movement
The Correio Nagô is another project of the Mídia Étnica Institute – www.correionago.com.br
By Caroline Sainsard
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