Vice.com has run a series of stories on their interesting and illuminating Fightland page that focus on the charity started by 5x world Champion Fernando "Terere" da Silva. Terere has an amazing and very inspirational life story (see videos below for details). As such, he is well positioned to run a program like the Terere Kids Project--a charity that focuses on making jiu jitsu accessible to children who otherwise couldn't afford it.
Here is their Mission Statement:
Our Mission is to improve the lives of children in the communities by providing a safe recreational environment away from the drugs and violence that they are often exposed to at a young age living in the favelas. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is an outlet for many of the kids from the favela. It's a safe place where they can come to train with their friends and learn from role models from the Cantagalo community. Jiu Jitsu is also a gateway to new oppurtunities for many athletes. Kids who were previously limited to the comings and goings of their neighborhoods bow onto the mats with athletes from all over the world that come to train in Brazil.
I greatly admire the idea behind this project--which has an important role to play in keeping kids out of trouble. Given the poverty that plagues many of the children living in Brazil's favelas, programs like TKP provide at-risk children with an opportunity to keep their lives on the right path with the help of jiu jitsu. The Fightland series about the program can be found here:
- Social Change Through Jiu Jitsu: The Terere Kids Project
- Favela Jiu Jitsu (Part 1)
- Favela Jiu Jitsu (Part 2)
- Favela Jiu Jitsu (Part 3)
- Favela Jiu Jitsu (Part 4)
The whole series is worth the read and the cause is worthy of your thoughts and contributions.
I also think similar programs should be adopted throughout the United States to help our own at-risk youth. So, while I encourage you to donate to TKD--since it's a good cause being run by a legend and an inspiration--I also encourage people to consider ways of using jiu jitsu to enrich the lives of poor children in their own communities. Hopefully, in the months and years ahead, my training partners and instructors at Devine Jiu Jitsu Charleston can come up with some creative ways of giving back to our own community here in the low country. It's not just about paying it forward to the next generation of grapplers. It's about using jiu jitsu to transform and improve people's lives--especially those who are the most vulnerable.
For inspiration, check out the following videos (below the fold) about Terere's own hardships and his redemption: