The five comprehensive clusters of projects supported by the Kellogg Foundation in the Northeast of Brazil participated from November 24-27 in the third Brazil Local Development Expo (Expo-DLIS), the largest such event in the country. Members of the Dream Machine Forum, the Friend Link Institute, the Alternative Technology Service (SERTA) and the Develop and Young Citizen projects had the opportunity to share experiences and network with potential partners. Organized by the DLIS Network – Integrated and Sustainable Local Development, the meeting convened nearly 3000 people in Olinda, Pernambuco.
The presentations awakened the interest of the other institutions. After displaying their work on the third day of the event, SERTA, which operates in Bacia do Goitá, in Pernambuco, began making contacts with representatives from the Banco do Brasil Foundation. Early in December, fresh contact was made to discuss the possibility of using SERTA’s working methodology in some of the Banco do Brasil Foundation’s actions in the state of Paraíba. Representatives from the Banco do Brasil Foundation paid a visit to Campo da Sementeira, the headquarters of SERTA, after which a meeting was held in João Pessoa, Paraíba.
“What is most important for us is that the repercussion of SERTA at the DLIS Expo was caused by the youngsters themselves. It was they who spoke about our experience and sparked the discussion with the audience,” explained Francisco Dantas, one of the supervisors of the NGO. The presentation was given by Sandro Cipriano and Natália Farias, former participants in the course offered by SERTA to train Local Development Agents. “Afterwards, there were so many questions that we had to take some away with us to answer via e-mail,” said Dantas.
Besides presenting their experiences, the participants of the Comprehensive Clusters of Projects supported by the Kellogg Foundation also had the opportunity to learn from what the other institutions had to say. “Our project has existed for only a year, which is why it is so important to have this contact with other local development work,” said Valnize Lima, from the Develop Project. ”Besides the presentations themselves, the event was important for sharing experiences outside the official program, which enabled us to identify what we can add to the project,” said Marcos Alves da Silva, from the Friend Link Institute.
The exchange between the projects is facilitated, say the participants, by the convergence of the topics and objectives. Throughout the meeting, issues such as youth protagonism, employment and income generation, solidarity economy and digital inclusion were discussed. “The causes and objectives of our projects are practically utopian and we constantly face internal and external challenges that test our perseverance in struggling to achieve them. It is times like this, exchanging stories and experiences with other groups, that strengthen us all,” said Garcia Junior, from the Young Citizen Project.