Sayonara Emanuely is 22 years old and lives in Coqueiral, an urban district of Recife in Pernambuco, North East Brazil. Her unusual name means ‘farewell’ in Japanese. She lives near Instituto Solidare and has attended their programmes since the age of 7.
‘There is a lot of violence in my area, including lots of robberies and assaults. Violence and drug trafficking are very common due to the difficulty people face in trying to earn money.’ This is a result of the lack of opportunities which are available for people to generate incomes and due to the location of her neighbourhood near to one of Brazil’s most violent prisons. Scholars state that the main concern about living in Recife is the high level of violence there and that although the majority of victims of urban violence are men, violence against women is a pronounced issue.
Despite these difficulties, Sayonara worked incredibly hard in school and after graduating she was able to get work experience. This is something which she states is very rare for school graduates who are faced with a lack of job opportunities. Official statistics show that over 25% of Brazil’s unemployed are aged between 16 and 18, meaning that support and training programmes are vital in improving their futures.
Sayonara started to attend Instituto Solidare’s Mentoring and Skills Training Programme, called Project Pescar, and worked hard to balance participating in the training with her job. She says that the training and mentoring has helped in all areas of her life because she discovered herself through the project. ‘I learned to fight for my rights and understood how important it is to invest quality time in what one likes.’ As well as learning transferable professional skills, Sayonara benefitted from the spiritual growth which she experienced throughout the project.
Attending the programme helped Sayonara to decide what she wanted to do with her life and empowered her to overcome the barriers which she has faced as a young woman in a disadvantaged community. The mentoring and training scheme gave her access to the job market and enabled her to find work in the field of workplace safety. This is important due to the high and rising rates of unemployment across Brazil. Data from 2020 shows that women represent more than half of Brazil’s total unemployment figures and that the rate of unemployment is 55.1% higher for Black individuals than for white individuals.
Sayonara’s participation in Instituto Solidare’s training has helped her to overcome these alarming prospects and has shaped her goals and hopes for the future. She wants to continue her professional career and to complete a degree, as well as spending quality time with her family. Sayonara is also determined to become a volunteer and says that she wants ‘to invest time in others in the way that others have invested time in me.’