Factories, Schools and Social Projects

June 4, 2008

Over Monday and Tuesday this week the team visited a number of schools, projects and  employers that are connected with Rotary or partially funded by Rotary.  The sites of these visits were around the area of Novo Iguacu – a large town just outside Rio.

Granfino is factory that produces a wide range of products that includes pet food and black beans. 

In addition to providing employment to local residents in quite a poor area, the company also provides various additional services.  After working hours the factory canteen is turned into a school for employees and their families.  Hairdressing and massage facilities are also provided for employees on-site.  Later in the day the team had a fascinating tour round the compactor pen factory.


The next day the team visited a school for children with special needs that is partially funded by Rotary.  They were introduced to the sports teacher who regularly takes children from the school to the special olympics. So far the school has succesfully built the ground floor of its building and is still raising money in order to complete building work on the two upper floors.

In the afternoon they made their way to the Sonoleve factory, a famous mattress manufacturers.  The factory is in a particularly poor and violent neighbourhood and provides employment opportunities not only for locals but also for prisoners and ex-offenders. 

Employees are paid with the company’s own currency which can be used to buy food and other products from the factory itself.  A section of the site is devoted to making gifts out of recycled materials such as Cocacola bottles.  Facilities such as doctors, psychologists and a small chapel are also provided for employees.



Coffee and biscuits with the military police

May 30, 2008

In the morning the whole team went to meet a representative of the military police at their headquarters in Copacabana.  Here they had a very interesting discussion about the problems associated with drug trafficking in the city’s slums and also the problems they encounter in the tourist areas of Rio.

After the discussion they saw the team responsible for monitoring CCTV cameras at work and were then treated by the captain to coffee, biscuits and croissants.


After this meeting the team took the metro across town to the Rio chamber of commerce where they presented to Gloria Rotary Club on the 15th floor.  Chris and Georg’ hosts Milton and Lia were present along with their nephew Tiago. Milton is the club president.

After the presentation Chris, Georg and Katie walked around the city centre with Tiago and Ana.  The fantastic weather broke briefly with a torrential downpour.  The team sheltered in a colourful local market.

To round off the day the team, with Ana and Paolo met up in Bar Luiz for a few Chopps ( a local draught beer).  Bar Luiz is a German bar that, before the second world war, was called Adolf’s!  After some protests at the time the name was changed.


Visit to Petrobras

May 29, 2008

In the afternoon Georg visited Petrobras, one of the of the biggest Brasilian companies and Brazil’s main oil company.  Georg had some interesting talks with Rogério Abdalad, who works as an environmental Engineer. Rogério talked about the different Business areas of Petrobras, some of their environmental projects and, after making a short presentation, Georg had an interesting conversation with Rogério about hazardous waste management in Brazil.



Visit to Padre Francisco Da Motta School

May 29, 2008

Today the whole team went to vist Padre Francisco Da Mott, a school funded partially by Rotary International in a poor area of Rio.

There they were shown round the classrooms and treated to musical performances of Mozart and Samba. Some of the children were learning English and German.

The school caters for the poorest children in the area and tries to give them a sense of family life that they would otherwise miss out on. It also tries to involve their parents as much as possible and provides facilities for the whole community including the library which is open to all. For some children the meal they are given at the school is the only meal they have each day.

After a tour of the school the team made a presentation to Saude Rotary Club. A group of children from the school also attended the presentation. They were inquisitive, friendly and behaved impeccably.

In an emotional speech the principal of the school thanked the team for coming and said that she hoped such visits would inspire the pupils at the school.

Towards the end of the meeting it was suggested that it would be great if a suitable project could be found for the UK and Brazilian Rotary districts to work on together.

Home working and red bananas

May 28, 2008

Chris made a vocational visit to the home of Felipe on Wednesday.  Felipe explained his vision of the role of small companies acting as middle-men providing a variety of  IT services to end users.


Whilst there, Felipe’s dad showed off his prized bunch of red bananas.  According to Lea, who is hosting Georg and Chris this week with her husband Miltom, regular intake of bananas is one of the keys to happiness. 

Later in the day Chris and Felipe visited Winco, a software development company.


Five kilogrammes of compost in a sack

May 28, 2008

Today Georg went to visit Comlurb, the company which is in charge of household waste collection and street cleaning for the centre of the Rio metropolitan area. During the visit he had the opportunity to visit the landfill site Aterro de Gramacho, one of the biggest landfills in South America. The site has a daily income of more then 6000 tons of household waste. It is situated somewhere in Duque de Caxis, to the north of Rio and until 1995 was not in a satisfactory situation. Due to investment of more then 80 million pounds, the site is now one of the safest in Brazil.

Recycling in Brasil is slightly different to the UK and has a strong social component. On the site itself, are more than 1000 people who collect and seperate out any valuable material from the incoming waste.Georg was told that the informal recycling sector in Rio employs more than 6000 people, who work in a very unhealthy environment.

The visit to one of Comlurb’s compost plants was also part of the programme. It has a capacitiy of 300 tons daily. Composting is very important in Rio, as more then 50% of all domestic waste is compostable.

At the end Georg recieved a sack full of compost material as a goodbye present from the site manager. Georg will undertake some research to see if there is a market in the UK for this material.


BOPE – Tropa de Elite

May 28, 2008

BOPE were paid a visit today at their secluded training base.  They are seen as the elite training corps in Brazil and specialise in tackling drugs and gun crime within the heavily armed favellas.  They use the same tactics as the British SAS and are provided with the best equipment, armoured vehicles, helicopters and boats in order to facilitate the most appropriate manner of entry into the problem area. 

They face gunfire attack daily and lose a high proportion of officers each year who are killed on duty.  Tropa de Elite, a film about the force won the top award at the Berlin film festival.