Based in the favela of Rocinha, the mission of Two Brothers Foundation (TBF) is to “promote education, community service and international exchange in low-income neighborhoods in Brazil.” To achieve this, they seek to create educational communities, bring together people from diverse walks of life, and empower people to have a positive impact on the world around them, both locally and globally. Their educational communities focus on learning in languages, arts, and science.Voluntourists are welcome to propose programs and workshops they would like to initiate and can be responsible for.TBF is a small-scale NGO with a bare-bones structure, so the most successful volunteers here will be those with initiative and strong self-management skills. Short-term volunteers (“voluntourists”) support ongoing classes and activities by acting as assistants to full-time volunteers who are “resident” (staying for three or more months), and voluntourists can only be accepted if there are residents on-site to work with them. Voluntourists are welcome to propose programs and workshops they would like to initiate and can be responsible for. It is important that voluntourists realize they will not just be teachers at this organic school, but also learners. There are always English classes at the educational center, and “open classes” have included subjects such as personal financial management, health, physical fitness, martial arts, dance, visual arts, computer literacy, film studies, photography, and video production. Tutoring in reading, writing, math, and science is also provided.
TBF also accepts groups; in the past, they have helped out with English classes, assisted in refurbishing TBF’s old building, and have offered consultation in business administration or other areas of expertise.
When volunteers are not working, they have plenty of ways to keep themselves busy: hiring a local tutor to improve their Portuguese, surfing, learning capoeira or jiujitzu, working on photography and film projects, conducting research, or exploring Rio. Some have volunteered for other organizations in Rocinha as well.
As a marginalized neighborhood, Rocinha can be dangerous. According to TBF’s Volunteer Manual, “Police and members of Rocinha’s drug gangs are extremely dangerous, and while it is wise to be friendly when spoken to, it is important to avoid getting involved with either.” TBF will provide volunteers with guidance about staying safe.
Two Brothers Foundation
Application Process: Volunteers should send an email and arrange for a meeting upon arrival to Brazil. Individual volunteers must be 18 or older; those younger than 18 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Families are welcome.
Cost: None. Volunteers are responsible for their own expenses.
Placement Length: Minimum three visits for short-term volunteers.
Language Requirements: None, although if the volunteer does not have Portuguese skills, TBF asks him or her to be actively studying before and during volunteering. Local tutors can be hired by the volunteer upon arrival in Rocinha.
Housing: Volunteers must make their own arrangements, although TBF can provide a list of conveniently-located hostels (US$17-26 per night). They also work with a guesthouse that is in a local home (US$120-144 per month; shorter stays are possible, but preference is given to resident volunteers). All volunteers are responsible for their own meals.
Operating Since: 1998
Number of Volunteers: about 50 “voluntourists” and another 7 resident (long-term) volunteers in 2012.