Jovens Construtores Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Pamella Gabriel dos Santos was not sure what to expect when she started the Jovens Construtores Brasil program in her community of Pavuna in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She thought that the electrical training might help her get a job, but she soon realized that there was so much more in store. Staff taught their students how to become leaders in their own communities, and fellow students became friends. The experience was transformative.
During the program, we became a family, and the staff advised, cared for, and protected us,” Pamella said. “They filled us with joy, hope, knowledge, and a feeling of belonging to our community. There was good energy every day.
While participating in an international exchange organized by YouthBuilt International in 2018, Pamella traveled to the U.S. for the first time and met YouthBuild students from Boston and Cambridge. The trip had a significant impact on her, helping her gain confidence in herself and all that she can accomplish.
“Through my experiences with YouthBuild, I became a young leader in my community, and my neighbors look at me in a different way.” Pamella said. “They look at me as if I am a mirror that is transmitting good things to the favela residents. What I learned during the course, I share with my community – that youth have a right to a good future inside or outside the favelas.”
Pamella believes that young people can do anything with the proper support.
Being on the front lines is a challenge, but it is gratifying as a young person to teach peers that there are solutions to their problems,” she said. “I am incredibly grateful for this support. Thank you for what I have become today.
Pamella remains active as a community leader by implementing social projects to improve the quality of life in Pavuna.