Marcos is the oldest of three boys, raised by a single mother. Growing up in Santana do Deserto, a small rural town outside of Rio de Janeiro, he had few opportunities to learn and to plan for his future. For Marcos and many young people in underserved communities, Brazil’s education system is inaccessible and inequitable. The situation has only worsened over the past year because of COVID-19, and the consequences are far-reaching. Communities are experiencing increased poverty, food insecurity, and gender inequity, and they have even less access to jobs and education than before.
Like many of their peers, Marcos’ parents only completed primary school. Marcos excelled at school and had dreams of pursuing higher education, learning English, and traveling. But he didn’t think these goals would materialise; such opportunities didn’t exist in Santana do Deserto. However, when Marcos was 13, staff from Onda Solidária visited his primary school and began to open up a world of possibilities for him and other young people in his community.
Onda Solidária provides young people in low-income neighbourhoods
Reflecting on his early involvement with Onda Solidária’s football team and English courses, he says the experience was rewarding: “I was discovering new cultures and opportunities. Onda Solidária helped me to believe in myself and gave me courage to reach for my goals.” Marcos is proud that he received a scholarship to a reputable secondary school in Brazil and became the first of his family to graduate secondary school.
His story doesn’t end there. In
This year, Marcos achieved another major milestone: he was accepted into the University of Brasilia and is be the first person from his family to go to college. Because of the pandemic, Marcos is attending his first semester of college virtually, which has allowed him to continue to be a leader in Onda Solidária programmes. He has been involved with developing some of the new pandemic programming, including doing live interview sessions on social media featuring local community figures.
When the university reopens, Marcos will move to Brasilia to continue his studies in international relations. He will work with Onda Solidária in a new capacity as the organisation’s first board member to have graduated from its programmes. Continuing his relationship with Onda Solidária, Marcos says he looks forward to further empowering young people, sending waves of positive change through the community.
Alan Duarte shares his story and speaks about the motivation behind starting his own organisation called Abraço Campeão (Champion Embrace) in Rio de Janeiro.Read Alan's Story
Cyclone Yaas brought widespread destruction to the coastal region of West Bengal, India earlier this year. Girl leaders, who had been trained and mentored by a former EMpower grantee partner, Nishtha, some years ago, proved key to the local response.Read Nishtha's Story
Stay up-to-date on the latest EMpower news, highlights from our grantee partners, upcoming events, and more.