Sunday, May 23, 2010

The CUFA - Central Única das Favelas

      CUFA - Central Única das Favelas (Central Union of Slums)  is an institution recognized internationally within the political, sportive, social and cultural spheres. It is a product of the union between the youth from various poor communities of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, created with the purpose to allow them the opportunity to share their talents, ideas, social attitudes, and simply their will to live.
      Among the founders is MV BILL, Brazilian Rapper and advocate for social respect who was also recognized by UNESCO as one of the 10 most active militants of the world in the last 10 years. Another one of the organization’s founders is singer Nega Gizza, a strong feminine reference and role model. Known and respected by her devotion to social causes, Gizza is the president of the International Street Basketball League and director of documentaries such as: “ Sou Sou”, and “ Obra Prima”.

      Cufa is present on all of the 27 Brazilian states, equipping more than 50,000 youth through programs and projects offered in various areas.

      In 2009 CUFA crossed the oceans and initiated the international branches in countries such as: Germany, Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Paraguay, Portugal, and the United States of America.

     CUFA became known internationally through its sports. LIIBRA, The International Street Basketball League and Reis da Rua, Street Kings, took the Harlem Globe Trotters and the Chilean and American National Street teams to Brazil to dispute for the Street Basketball World Title.

     2009 was the first annual “Viradão Esportivo”, a sports marathon that consists of two days dedicated to recreation and sports held at street parks, gymnasiums, and public gathering spaces.

       Within Brazil, CUFA has stood out for taking big festivals to suburb communities such as the anniversary of Rio de Janeiro to be celebrated in The City of God for two consecutive years, and also Labor Day to Nova Iguacu and New Year’s Eve to the Baixada Fluminence.

       Today CUFA is a prominent entity recognized for promoting Festivals and Events like the HUTUZ, the biggest Rap music festival of Latin America which happens each year in November in Rio de Janeiro. The event features cinematography, debates, performances and vast variety of activities all linked to the Hip-Hop theme. Other festivals like Brandan, Brasil Break Dance and RPB ( Pop Rap Music) are tournaments where competitors dispute for municipal, state and national titles.

       Cine-CUFA, is a film festival catering exclusively to projects produced by members of the favelas as well as from other low income neighborhood communities.

       Among the many new projects is the ANU, designed to identify and give public recognition to the initiatives geared toward the social and cultural equilibrium. Samba de Rua, in English Samba in the Streets is a festival with the intention to reveal new talents and launch new artists within the Brazilian music genre.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

CUFA USA Opens a new branch in Los Angeles

CUFA USA just opened a new base in Los Angeles, California.

The organization is teaming up with Brazilian Cultural Entity Casa do Samba to launch community projects starting in June 2010.

CUFA USA - LA is hosting the First Annual Brazilian Music Benefit this Summer. The music festival will feature performances by respected Brazilian Musicians, local Brazilian artists and upcoming talents.

The organization kicks off offering a variety of programs in the areas of Sports, Music, Dance, Capoeira and Art all with a Brazilian Cultural Influence.

Casa do Samba is directed by Israel and Bia Ferreira a well known couple from the Brazilian Community of Los Angeles.

Casa do Samba is a Brazilian Samba School that takes pride in preserving the authentic beats and sounds of the Rio de Janeiro Carnaval Batucada and the Enredo, the history of Samba as is told by the lyrics of the music.

What many might not know about Casa do Samba is that it is actually a product of twenty years of devotion and dedication that started in 1989 with MILA Samba School, the first Samba School ever founded

in Los Angeles. The founder Luizinho Ferreira is Israel’s father and known as pioneer of the Brazilian music community for having brought many Brazilian Musicians to LA to perform and work at MILA.

Artists like Beth Carvalho the “Madrinha” or “Godmother” of the school, members of Pagode Group Fundo de Quintal, So Preto, and percussionists and singers from the most popular Samba schools of Rio all shared the stage with the school on many occasions. Israel and Bia grew up at MILA’s rehearsals and events.
The name Casa do Samba has a very important meaning, it is the insurance that Samba, the music that is the foundation of what makes up Brazilian Culture will always have a home.  Casa do Samba is where Samba lives!

The two organizations unite to use as many instruments and resources available to accomplish the shared vision of community involvement and outreach. The programs will be available to the community starting Summer 2010.

We invite anyone interested in contributing or volunteering to help make this happen to please contact us at:

CUFA without Borders!

By Felipe Gomes
CUFA USA - Sustainable Business and Innovation

Hello everyone!

From April 09 to May 11 I’ve had the opportunity to experience the current reality of most Central American countries.

With a Social look and not with a Tourist look I could see several realities that coalesce and form a chain of different social classes, which often are incompatible in the current socio economic realities of such countries.

The trip plan was to go in thirty days through the following countries of Central America: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala then to finish in Belize a Caribbean country.

The primary objective was to bring these countries into a socio economic and cultural benefit to the real needs that were raised and studied, making it easier to creating solutions for short or long term and implement effective actions in the near future.

The transport used most often was the public transportation. Sometimes, even cross borders. With it was possible to make the travel cheaper and at the same time to be closer to the everyday life of local people being included in their reality.

In Costa Rica, the buses in the capital San Jose and surrounding cities are very similar to municipal bus from São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, however, to begin to rise for other countries the situation changes quite precarious and transportation is increasingly evident.

In "Chicken” buses and cars with poor condition in most cases, the population of the countries of Central America moves every day, whether in rural or urban, to keep their sources of low incomes and continue fighting the furor by a government failed and absent in lower social classes, those that require more assistance.

Walking through very poor neighborhoods and isolated communities it’s possible to follow the struggle for survival of people who still follow many interesting cultures and beliefs which in most cases is Maya! Therefore one of the more common occupations is still a craftsman, seamstresses and many other crafts that become a source of income.

The food is simple and at breakfast the famous "Gallo Pinto (black beans, fried egg or scrambled, fresh cheese, cream and tortillas) leads the requests in the streets, bars and homes. Fruits like mango, banana, watermelon, orange and others are found on every street corner vendors who sell them already peeled and cut for very low prices and contributes to a much more healthy food than many other countries. Generally, in the same places you get delicious juices with the same fruits. The chicken meat is the most consumed and the cheapest one.

The heat is often very strong, even in cities with high altitude, but the work never stops in rural areas. Even on Sundays you will find many workers on the farms of bananas, oranges or other specialty, and working very long hours. At the end of the day they leave to return to their families, take a bucket of cold water to bath and to sleep before everything starts again. Women carry huge baskets and often clay pots on their heads, either with water or fruit and home cakes to sell in the "calles" (streets).

Children put their school uniforms and spend half day in public schools and the other half often working with parents on the streets. In the city of Granada, Nicaragua, more than 2,000 children attend the center for extracurricular activities “Carita Feliz”, that develops something extraordinary forming children better prepared for future challenges and a more open mind, because one of its main functions is to show the range options that life offers. Possibly, a future CUFA’s partner.

Talking to local people, I wondered about the situation in their homes. Often, even without any luxury or even with poor sanitation and poor housing conditions, the fact that they can cook rice and beans every day for their children was sufficient for a modest smile that expressed a discreet happiness of who is not hungry. The food, fortunately is not a major problem.

The lack of policy and conduct of certain governments rather, are a major problem. Corruption is a serious issue in most countries and the lack of good relationship between neighbors countries is also something sad. Already there were often attempts at unification in Central America, but was never actually put into practice. The lack of trust of people in their government is something that frustrates and brings out a feeling of contempt and betrayal. You can see it in people beyond the poverty, they are abused by this lack of morality. Compared to Africa, I conclude that: "Many times the innocence, goes hand in hand with happiness." Because in Africa I could see that even innocent people in politically even in a misery live their days in the best possible way and did not express this lack of morality and disregard what I could see in Central America.

Another major problem found is violence. Nowadays, in cities such as San Salvador in El Salvador or Tegucigalpa in Honduras, are places where the night walking in the streets is out of the question. In San Salvador, 12 people are killed at gunpoint a day. I’m not just talking about slums and desolate places, either because even in Tegucigalpa, in some evening I was in a slum that I didn’t know, alone, walking with all my stuff back and I did not feel afraid, because everything I saw was people were in packed buses, returning from work, or working on the streets for daily bread. However, there are places very rich in these cities to an audience entirely selected which can be as dangerous as others. The lack of government support in areas of risk and the absence of security actions makes most places risk points and always at gunpoint in large cities. Small towns and more tourist are much calmer now, both because tourism is the economic basis of most of these countries. The crimes grow too much and indignation and lack of resources in society is what drives to it.

For this now I get the main point of discussion. The problems are blending and creating a social monster. It is necessary for effectiveness in solving all these problems, whether through education, culture, environment or development, either where they should be treated everyone equally and urgently. Because the violence will not cease to grow if poverty is not controlled. And poverty will never be controlled if corruption is not unmasked. And among many, many other factors that add more and more social diseases that must be treated.

This is the social look that discriminates primary facts to the growth and change in a positive way in underdeveloped countries.

Opportunities can be given and so robbers can build schools, politicians can build an honest and glorious country and children can believe in a better future. Role reversal is required.

CUFA in the U.S discussing Social Impact of Sports

Flavia Caetano, CUFA’s International coordinator and head of the Social Department will be in Atlanta on May 20 and 21st to partake in the “Plan OF Action”. The Plan of Action is a partnership between SEPPIR, (office of public policies and racial equality) and the United States Government, signed in 2008 in favor of the elimination of the ethnic- racial discrimination and the promotion of equality.

The Plan of Action agenda meets twice a year with the board of directors of each government to elaborate on performance strategies, conjuncture analysis and defining of combined actions.

As a part of the trip of May 12 through 21, a group of nine people consisting of directors of public policies, sports, tourism and non-profit representatives, will participate in a Visitor Itinerary Program between Washington and Atlanta, where they will debate the impact of social urban reform for the preparation of the world titles, athletes and sports projects, community organizations, business leaders and social entrepreneurs.

The Itinerary Visitors Program will enable a connection with various institutions with the same profile as CUFA, allowing for discussion concerning the impact that the building and preparations for the Olympic Games and the World Cup will have on the poor. The program is an initiative of the American Government coordinated by the American Embassy of Brazil.