September 21, 2009
Voices of Hope Pew Bulletin Story
In a small rehearsal room in the barrio of Plataforma on the outskirts of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, a group of young people are moving to the pounding beat of African drums. Full of energy and youthful enthusiasm Ã¢â‚¬” at first glance there is nothing extraordinary about this scene. But this is no ordinary dance class. The teacher is a professional dancer, who is also a member of the local CandomblÃƒ© terreiro (territory), XpÃƒ© AxÃƒ© KafÃƒ© Bokum, The Land Where Our Energy is Planted. Under her guidance, the young people are learning through dance, the traditional stories of their cultural and religious heritage. The dance workshops are the final segment of a three-month course in leadership training supported and coordinated by PWRDF partner, KOINONIA Ã¢â‚¬” Ecumenical Presence and Service.
Until 1970, the practice of CandomblÃƒ©, was outlawed and heavily repressed. Still today, people who adhere to this traditional Afro- Brazilian belief system come face to face with prejudice, racism and intolerance. KOINONIA ccompanies 170 CandomblÃƒ© terreiros providing leadership training on everything from civil rights to HIV/AIDS prevention to gender training. KOINONIA also provides legal support in cases of religious intolerance that are still prevalent in Brazil. One of their successes is to have January 21 declared a National Day to Combat Religious Intolerance. These young people are dancing the stories of their ancestors and realizing their own dreams of a new reality for Brazil. Dancing their dreams (PDF)