Monday, June 17, 2013


It is a cloudy Monday morning in Rio and therefore, a perfect day to sit down and write my first blog entry for 2Bros.

My name is Erin, although in Rocinha I go by my second name “Liza” because Brazilians tend to have a lot of trouble pronouncing the name, Erin (The “R” in the middle throws them through a loop). I arrived in Rocinha from Toronto, Canada exactly a month and a half ago. My role here is as Resident Volunteer, teaching the adolescent class (kids aged from 11-14) and also a beginner English, adult class. I will be living here in Rocinha until September, at which point I need to go back to Canada and start my third year at York University 

Since my arrival on May 2nd, 2013, my life has been entirely turned upside down. Rocinha is impossible to describe unless you have actually been here- it is it’s own world- A city within a city. It is loud and wild and dirty and alive and extreme, but most importantly, it is a community with very strong roots and pride. I have never felt so welcome anywhere in my life, as the residents have taken me in with open arms. Every day that I walk through the winding streets and alleyways, I wave to at least five people ranging from true friends, to acquaintances to the man who sold me sunglasses on my third day here but still remembers me and calls out as I walk through the market.

The team at Two Brothers is also amazing and have acted as a true support system whilst I was adjusting here. For my first entry, I think I will just introduce the team and then from now until I leave, I will make sure to keep you updated on the many activities and day to day life events  that I experience as a resident volunteer with 2Bros.  

On Saturday June 15th  we had to bid a very sad goodbye to one of the “family” members, Jess. Jessica is a beautiful compassionate girl from Cambridge,  UK, who was working in Rocinha for five months as a part of her university program. She worked mainly with the little kids but also taught adult classes. She was a majorly creative force, with an abnormal amount of compassion and empathy and in my mind, represented the definition of what 2Bros is looking for in their volunteers. We really miss her already.  

In her place, we now have Wesley, who is also a university student, coming from the prestigious Princeton University in the United States. He will start teaching this week, taking over the kids class which is easily the most difficult class to work with as you are thrown into a room full of kids ages 8-11.

The team also comprises of Ben, another UK representative from the North of England who has been living in Rocinha for the past four months. Ben also heads home relatively soon and will start his Masters program at Kings College starting in September. Ben possesses one of the biggest hearts of anyone I have ever met and brings a lot of fun and enthusiasm everywhere he goes. The kids absolutely love him, and despite some language barriers (Ben came to Brazil knowing next to no Portuguese), he has thrived here and his classes have benefitted from his dedication and creativity. 

Then there is Paul, who works with the adult classes at 2Bros. Paul is from the States and has been living in Rocinha for quite some time now and I believe plans to live here for the next while. Paul is the definition of an adventurer having BIKED from the U.S.A. to Brazil. 

Last but not least, there is our Field Coordinator, Jennifer. Jenn is also from the States and has been living in Rocinha for the past 9 months. Jenn has fallen in love with Brazil and Rocinha in particular. The community adores her here and in less than a year, she has managed to become nearly completely fluent in Portuguese. If and when you are applying for a volunteer position at 2Bros, Jenn is the gal who you will communicate with and greet you/orient you upon your arrival!

One of the best things that Two Brothers does is bring in a slew of creative “Voluntourists”- people who can’t actually live in Rocinha for the minimum three months but are willing to come in and help us for at least three weeks. This is such an important part of the program and supplies the Resident Volunteers with a lot of inspiration and also extra hands to help in the classroom. It also widens the kids perspective on how big our world is and how many different kinds of people are out there.    

Currently, we have two amazing Voluntourists from the UK, Sophie and Olivia. They have been helping out and also teaching drama classes every Friday. The classes are geared towards creativity and identity and it has been really fun working with the kids on a theatrical level and seeing how they respond (which luckily, has been very positively!).

 The point of this blog entry was to give you a sense of the people who are on the ground at 2Bros, who are actually putting the positive ideas and philosophies into action. If you think you can relate to some of the character traits that I have mentioned, please consider applying as a Resident Volunteer or popping in as a Voluntourist! If that isn’t possible, just sending us good wishes and support is hugely appreciated.

I promise to write again soon, next time describing life with my teens, our classes and extracurricular activites!

Paz e Beijos,


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