So firstly Happy New Year to you all, I’d like to thank you for your support throughout 2013 because without many of you it would’ve been impossible! What an incredible year 2013 was and before it’s just a distant memory I thought I’d share with you some of my highlights.
I started my year by jetting off to Brazil to begin volunteering at The Pink House with Meninadanca, I remember feeling a mixture of emotions. I was really excited about this new opportunity but yet was nervous of going into the unknown, I didn’t know what to expect and was travelling alone across to the other side of the world to a country where I couldn’t speak the language, to work with extremely vulnerable girls in potentially dangerous circumstances. Yet this didn’t stop me, as scared as I was I packed my bags and off I went with little idea of what to expect or what it was going to be like. To read more about my initial thoughts of arriving in Brazil take a look at ‘Welcome To Brazil’ the post I wrote when I fist arrived in Medina.
By this time I was beginning to settle quite well in Brazil, The Pink House had opened it’s doors to 50 very special girls and I had the privilege of getting to know them and teaching them dance. The highlight of this month had to be that I was lucky enough to experience an authentic Brazilian Carnival, one of the largest in the world. This was an incredible experience, If you want to see more about what I got up to at Carnival click on the picture.
This was quite a significant month in my journey with The Pink House and looking back probably one of my favorite memory’s. We had our first ever public performance; ‘A Night Of dreams Realised.‘ The event showcased performances of dance, drama and all the hard work that had been going on at The Pink House since opening 6 weeks previous. It was a night in which the girls showcased their talent and hard work for the first time to the town and their friends and family. Everyone involved felt a great sense of achievement and pride, it also instilled a sense of excitement in myself, the staff and the girls as we envisaged the future.
This was an exciting month which saw the arrival of the first of our impact teams to The Pink House; The EIC Dance Theatre from London comprised of Sara, Nicola and Emma – a very talented trio that each specialise in different styles of dance and are very passionate about using it as a tool to engage young people. The two weeks we spent together seemingly went past in the blink of an eye which is testament to how enjoyable the time they spent in Brazil was, yet as I try to summarise the events it becomes apparent how much they achieved with the girls in such a short space of time. To see more about what EIC did at The Pink House check out the post I wrote about their time in Brazil by clicking on the picture.
Another exciting month at the Pink House with the arrival of 2 new volunteers; Kim Alexander and Rachel Alvarez. Their time in Brazil was jam packed and complimented the work we were already doing with the girls. Throughout the month of May we explored the theme of Human Rights which was chosen to coincide with May 18th Brazil’s national day to combat the sexual exploitation of children and adolescences. Kim and Rachel worked with the girls on a stop motion animation video while I had the opportunity to perform with the some of the Pink House girls at an event in the town square to mark Brazil’s national day to combat the sexual exploitation of children and adolescences.
This month The Pink House did one of its biggest projects yet; a community arts mural in the centre of Medina for all the community to see. Volunteer Kim Alexander was the creative genius behind the project an created this huge piece of art in less than a week. The aim of the piece was to challenge the community’s perceptions of our girls at the Pink House and put the message across ‘The way you see me could transform our lives.’ At the end of the week we held an event called ‘open your eyes’ we revealed the mural to the community and the girls at The Pink House danced and performed a very moving drama piece, to see more about the nights events click on the picture.
July – September
Saying goodbye to the girls at The Pink House and coming back to the UK was really difficult, it was lovely to see friends and family but ultimately it was a difficult few months of adaption to change.
As well as celebrating my 25th Birthday this month I also had the privilege to attend and speak at the annual Meninadanca conference ‘Speak for Me.’ I felt honoured when I was asked to speak at this event as I attended this conference 2 years ago in 2011 to find out more about Meninadanca. It’s crazy to think that back then I had little idea of who Meninadanca were and what work they did, to now be in a position 2 years on where I’m not only part of this amazing charity but to also have had the opportunity to share my experiences with supporters both new and old. It was a very humbling and an amazing experience and a wonderful reminder of how the charity has developed and progressed since 2011. I am proud to be able to contribute and be part of Meninadanca’s journey.
Since returning to the UK I have done a number of different things to fund raise for my return back to Brazil, November was the busiest and most succes month for this. I started the month off with a charity collection at my local supermarket, I also began encouraging people on Facebook to donate online. These events got my fundraising off to an amazing start and I was overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of people. The main event of the month was ‘Gala for Good’ an evening of salsa dancing, tapas and a charity auction. The event was a huge success and gained a lot of support from local businesses who donated some fabulous prizes. If you want to see more from Gala for Good and my other fundraising events click here or the picture.
This month gave me time to reflect, relax and have a little bit of down time with family and friends for Christmas. I had a jam packed year in 2013 with so much to be grateful for, Thank You for sharing 2013 with me! I’m excited to see what 2014 has in store, I hope you stay on my journey with me.