Alô! I have now been in Campo Grande, Brazil for 3 full days. The trip took about 27 hours and three planes. It was very interesting when I got to the Brazil airport because their airport security is virtually nonexistent. At SeaTac, the line to get through security takes so long, there are so many people and there are security guards with assault rifles as well as K-9 bomb sniffing dogs. The Brazil airport on the other hand had no lines, no intense security measures or anything like that, only a customs kiosk where security asks a few questions and then your baggage is x-rayed within a couple of minutes and then off you go! It caused me to reflect on how far America goes post 9-11 to keep the country feeling secure.
The time I have spent in the country so far has been a whirlwind. In many of the places we have visited we have been met by news reporters, photographers and many others who are very excited that we are visiting their city. On Monday, we visited UFMS, the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul and met with Brazilian law students. Some of them will also be visiting UWT for an exchange program in January. They are all very kind and helpful people who have assisted us by translating for Professors and other people we have encountered who do not speak English.
We also visited the Migrant Pastoral Ministry on Monday, which is a Catholic organization that supports immigrants just coming into the country, human trafficking survivors and homeless people. However, in Brazil, they do not use the word homeless. Instead, they use the phrase people in a situation of the street, which I find to be less deficit-based language and does not define them. It also implies that it is a situation that is not static. I’m including a photograph of the class and some of the members of the Migrant Pastoral Ministry, and a very photogenic cat.
On Tuesday, we visited the Casa da Muhler Brasileira, or House of the Brazilian Woman. This is a place that is open 24 hours a day, where any woman can go to if they have been in a domestic abuse situation, to receive services. The process for a woman who goes there is ingenious, as all of her needs are met under one roof. When she arrives, she registers at the front desk. From there, she can be seen by female police officers to file a report, the aggressor will be arrested and brought to a jail cell in a separate area so he never has contact with her, and the case will be seen and decided upon by a judge. Women can receive job training, mental health and social services as well as temporary shelter. All of these things are only a snapshot of what the House of the Brazilian Woman provides. I am including a photograph of the dolls that some of the women make to sell and generate income for their families. I was able to purchase one of the Frida Kahlo dolls for 40 Reals, which is about 10 American dollars. I’m so happy I was able to support these strong, brave women. Also, I believe the U.S. should seriously consider this model as a template for something that could be implemented in the states, as it is much more comprehensive than anything we currently have.
Ok, well I have to go work on some homework assignments now! In my next blog, I will talk about meeting with high school students, an urban indigenous group and the Furnas Dionisio Quilombo community! Until then, tchau!