On our last Saturday in Brazil, we went to spend the day at Maua.
As soon as we arrived I started to play football with some of the children there in the courtyard. Now I’m not the most sporty of people-I am also particularly atrocious at football. For instance, when I was 8, I played for the cub’s football team. They used to call me ‘Beastly’ as when I tackled someone I always apologised! The first game I ever played, the team lost 10-0. I think the only game we ever won that season was when the other team didn’t turn up so by default we won! I decided early on in my childhood that football wasn’t for me!
Now at first I was really impressed with myself as I actually scored a goal. Before I went to Brazil, I constantly heard about how good Brazilians are met to be at football. But I was thinking that they can’t be that good as I keep scoring goals. It turns out the children were being really polite and were letting me win. The most hilarious thing about the game was that a few times (ok about 10 times), there was no goalie in the goal and yet I still missed. The look of utter disbelief on the faces of the children was priceless-I’m sure they were thinking how awful can you be.
With the game of football finally over, we got a chance to meet with some of the teenagers who live in Maua and I was able to handover the cards and letters that young people in Liverpool Archdiocese had written for them. We met and chatted with Roberto (16), Niko (14) and Luke (17). They talked about their families, jobs (they all work) and hobbies.
After our chat, we went outside to the stage area where the young people and children were dancing away to different music (including gangnam style)! Now on the application form to apply for our place on the trip to Brazil, it said we had to share a skill. After racking my brains for a while (apart from soap knowledge), I didn’t think I had a skill to share. Then I remembered that when I was 15 I recorded a pop song with my drama group called ‘Catch a falling star’ so on the form I offered to teach it to the young people at Maua. So that’s what I did. I teamed up with Roberto, Niko and Luke and they did fantastically well! You can see for yourself here:
After I performed, Nete and William had organised a dancing competition where the children at Maua took part! Then after the dancing competition, they organised a talent show. At first a lot of the teenagers were just beat boxing so Joelle (one of my travelling companions from CAFOD) said, “James if you sing, they might start to sing instead of just beat boxing.” So I just sang the first thing which came into my head which I’m ashamed to say was SClub7 ‘Reach’ (In my defence, I had just sung it with the Liverpool youth group at Chinese Karaoke the week before which was probably why it was in my head). After I sang, the children and teenagers did all start singing and telling jokes so it did seem to work after all!!! After the talent show we had lunch with William, Nete, Luke and Niko where we continued to chat. After lunch we went to see Luke’s home which was on the top floor of Maua. On the way back down, we visited Raquel’s shop which was lot bigger than I expected. At the end of the day, Nete and William had organised a viewing of a film for the children so the children began to watch that while we said our goodbyes to Nete, William, Roberto, Luke and Niko!
What really touched me that day was when I was leaving Maua for the last time and saying goodbye to someone in the courtyard, a huge shout from the fifth floor bellowed ‘Ciao James.’ I still don’t know who it was as I didn’t have my glasses on but for that day at Maua; I felt part of the community.
To finish off my reflections from Brazil, I would like to finish off with a quote from Nete which I think best sums up Connect2: Brazil: “The support we have received from England and Wales is fundemental. I always say that we aren´t alone. People here don´t care about us, but people there do care. They are worried about us and whether we have food to eat and a place to live. In all our assemblies, I always talk about this and show the photos and letters we have received. My message for CAFOD and the communities of England and Wales is this: in the name of the community, I thank my brothers and sisters. We are happy to be part of your family. There are no barriers between us. Just as you are thinking of us, we are thinking of you – constantly. Together we are helping people to realise their dreams.”