At the beginning of July the Association Monte Azul received special guests from South Africa. Nine youths and three managers of the organisation “Vulamasango-Open Gates”, including the founder Florian Krämer, spend two weeks in São Paulo together with the Community of Monte Azul.
The two weeks were marked by various cultural exchanges, conversations, joy and especially love.
It was too much and too valuable for only showing one perception of it. For that reason some of the persons who had the honor of experiencing this incredible event agreed to write a comment to show a wider and larger image.
shared dreams and hopes
Putting to words the experience of the social exchange between Vulamasango and Monte Azul has proven to be quite difficult. Leaving home, I had expected to gather information about the project Monte Azul in order to learn and grow Vulamasango.
When I got home I realized it was far deeper than that. In the short time we spent together each of us grew in a vast number of ways. The interactions between our youths and those of Brazil extended beyond my wildest expectation. The exchanged moved beyond the barriers of language and origin to a sphere of commonality and shared dreams and hopes. The questions raised in the everyday interactions became a new chapter in the growth process for each one of us and of the project. It was an experience of a lifetime that I hope will happen again with a reverse exchange in the not so distant future.
Lusanda Bali, manager of Vulamasango
Presentation in Peinha | 5th of July 2017
Culture, Life, Friendship
“For many years I had a dream in school in Germany and that dream was to go to the continent Africa. One time I nearly had the opportunity to go the South Africa. With that dream the continent of Africa has already been for long time in my heart, waiting for me to explore it.
Already months before the exchange with the project Vulamasango we heard and read about the history of it. Together with this anticipation to get to know people and the culture of Africa I was really excited to receive these teenagers of this project. With the early preparation there were expectations growing about how it would be and what I would get to see, to hear and to know. This can be dangerous sometimes because reality is rarely identical to our dreams. But this time my expectations were exceeded.
Beside the beautiful and professional choir, the activities and the presentations from and for them them I spend a lot of time with these teenagers outside of the activities in our free time and I developed a good friendship with some of them. Thus I not just learned about the life of these teenagers, but also about the culture, the political situation and even some words and expressions of the local language called “Xhosa”. The meetings of conversation also helped a lot to get to know, understand and compare their situation and of their country with my experiences in Brazil and Germany.
Additionally to what I have learned, I also view other persons who really liked their experiences of this exchange, especially at the “circle of conversation” meetings. I think everyone who participated learned a lot.
When I look back to those two weeks of exchange, I can say that I loved it. I recommend doing international exchange projects of this type as often as possible.”
Joran Schneyer, Volunteer (H.A.)
SARAU in the Theater Monte Azul | 06th of July 2017
Monte Azul is a great to be. The people are friendly and welcoming. They make you feel like you part of them. I enjoy the way the culture is embracing.
Abongile Phelisa, part of “Vulamasango”
Walk to the dam of Horizonte Azul | 7th of July 2017
A Smile in Everyones Face, a Fire in Everyones Heart
“Thinking about these two weeks is incredible, overwhelming and at the same time gorgeous. Although it was not planned for us volunteers to accompany the group the whole two weeks, I had the honour to participate in most of the activities and to experience this wonderful exchange. It is hard to find words, because there are so many emotions stored in this weeks.
Besides the choir, which managed to conjure a smile on everyones face and a fire in everyones heart, there were many valuable exchanges, inspirations and presentations. Cultural exchanges with art, music and dance represented a big part of the program, also the conversations between youths in Ute’s house, with the community of the Favela or in the Anthroposophical Society were very profound and pure inspiration. In my personal life there was never such a short time which changed so many things inside me or around me. Especially for the community, the two organisations and each and every person who participated, this exchange was defining and will definitely yield his consequences for a long time in the future. A big success!”
Mira Hill, Volunteer (H.A.)
Visit in Horizonte Azul | 7th of July 2017
Africa is in all of us
“My holidays in Brazil were fantastic. I enjoyed every moment and I felt deeply hurt when I was leaving. I enjoyed the relationship between two different zones or let me say people who don’t speak Portuguese or don’t speak Xhosa but can still communicate, using facial expressions, or hands and movements.
What got me the most was the feeling that my family is everywhere, not just in Africa but everywhere, because I realized that our cultures are more or less similar and that Africa is in all of us. I will never forget the memories we shared together, meeting new people and making brothers and sisters.
I learned that my talent can’t be useless like the letter “P” in Psychology, I have to use it to heal others not just putting a smile on their faces but healing them emotionally.
Thank You! For everything.”
Sbahle, part of the group “Vulamasango”
Circle of Capoeira at the community of Monte Azul | 8th of July 2017
A project that the whole world should know
“Vulamasango is a project that the whole world should know. It’s very interesting how this projects expresses the african values through music.
It could be used as a model for other places so that they too will embrace the idea of welcoming children in vulnerable social situations or ophans to grant them a life full of value and growth.”
Pedro, Monte Azul
Theatro Hebraica | 9th of July 2017
The Thoughts That Stayed
“And then, that Sunday, early morning hours in everyone’s eyes, full of thoughts and questions and the bright sun, I went towards them, hugged them one after another, ordered AB to get out of the car, a warm hug, of course he had to bring the old joke another time, so of course I had to punch him again. Around us everyone saying good-bye, smiles in our faces, but yet final ones… and then they left.
And then, as I walked home, there was this presence of absence everywhere, this feeling of something that was there suddenly being gone and the absence of it is so evident, it is a presence itself.
A so silent pain that yet can’t be overheard, somewhere, together with the echo of energy, the memories of music full of something that touched us all so deeply, wonder in everyone’s mind.
The short time I got to spend with them was never enough to get to know them. But the few moments where special, and they moved something within me.
They reminded me of so many things.
Things we need to think about, things we need to talk about. Preconceived prejudices, categorized judgement – we need to talk about our society.
We have gone through enough gruesome history to know better that creating preconceived ideas of how something has to be.
What do we expect, when hearing about a group of orphans from one of South Africa’s biggest township? We expect them to be black? poor? traumatized? not knowing about technology or the modern world?
Many thought that. Many expected that. But the truth is that none – none of these thoughts should cross your mind and become actual expectation. It’s called categorizing and prejudicing based on lack of real knowledge but rather superficial association. And it is so painful.
By already putting an image on them, your take away their right to be who they are. You take the respect they deserve by being human away from them.
What do we know about people we never met? Mostly nothing. We don’t know their story. We don’t know their mind. We don’t know their lives. So we can’t create images.
But we do.
Something, that breaks young ones all around the world is conformity. Pressure of the group to be similar. Not be different because then you won’t be part of it anymore.
When I was young, I didn’t care about what was popular. I refused to do anything other than what I wanted, just because everyone did it. I refused to accept some image of who I should be.
And I suffered for it.
But yet I had that choice to be different. I had the incredibly luxury of choosing to be me. And though it wasn’t easy or did feel like a luxury at the time, I surely survived, knowing somewhen that I was who I was. But that luxury? That was luck.
What I also got to know back than, was the heavy horrible weight that this pressure of conformity and these images put on you.
And I think many of us know it. But still, this way, young souls and minds are attacked by the mass, consciousness broken so brutal by those who separate themselves from others in a way of saying “I am better” and believing that the own perception of the world is the bottom of reality.
But it never is, can’t be.
What I want to say is – we need to stop. We need to stop. Even if it became custom, even if it is hard to not create images or judgement… we need to stop, because prejudices always hurt. And conformity never will be a perk or beautiful or positive in any way.
Slavery, Racism, Apartheid, Holocaust, military dictatorship, Homophobia – have we learned nothing? All these times of unspeakable suffering caused partly or wholly by these images put on minorities, those who are different, the others – shouldn’t we understand the consequences by now?
Are some, many of us so blinded by egoism and capitalism that they are willing, able to oversee such brutality that marks everything?
Because it is brutal to only see ones own perception of reality. It is of such cruelty to only believe in ones own individuality. Because by that, you take away all individual of the other.
It all needs to begin with respect. With the basic truth that reality, if it really exists, is the cross point of everyone’s perception of it, and therefore not visible to us. So we are not in the position to say what it is. So we are not in the position to say, who others have to be.
If I could ask one thing of the world, it would be to finally grant human rights to everyone.
Respect, Liberty, Equality. We need to – and I can’t believe that there still may be a need to state this, but – we need to realize that all of us are human beings.
And, like Florian said – when young people from all around the world come together, to talk.. talk about experiences, cultures, believes, views of the world, that’s where we begin too. That’s a first step.
Thank you guys. You’ve got the craziest energy. You were an inspiration to us all. And really cool.
Lina Selg, Volunteer (M.A.)
Painting in the Favela | 10th of July 2017
Dear Vulamasango Team
“We are still in the warm and exciting atmosphere of our multicultural social art festival. It was marvelous, much more than we expected. Your music is fantastic but more than this: the encounter between different cultures. Different but also similar in some aspects. African and Brazilian – Brazil as the encounter of three main cultures: indigenous, african, european ( and now ever more oriental also).
We lived many highlights during your stay. One was, for me, the discusions we had in my home and in the anthroposophical society about individualism and ubuntu culture. Individualism not in the sense of egoism but of being yourself, try to live your innermost self, your own destiny which might be different from the family.
Many thanks for coming. And lets see how we continue our encounters.”
Painting with Jair Guilherme Filho in the cultural centre | 11th of july 2017
my skin started to crawl until I cried
“I will never forget the time we spent with these Africans.
This meet-up with the South-Africa Choir Vulamasango had already been planned for a long time. It was eager to get to know the people of Vulamasango, but a well thought – ho am I going to communicate with them? They so speak english and my own english and my own english disappeared since I am here in Brazil.
For this reason I was halfy sad, for I wouldn’t be able to speak with them.
But soon their first rehearsel here in our Theater Centro Cultural Monte Azul began – they started to sing and my skin started to crawl until I cried. So beautiful.
Until today whenever I am remembering of their shows, whenever I am listening to their music or watching the videos I made… the tears are always close. Wonderful voices.
I want to thank them. They are incredible people. THANK YOU!
I never thought I would miss them that much.”
Theater Monte Azul | 13th of July 2017
A magical group
“What is there to say about this magical group named Vulamasango?
That it is pure magic mixed with a certain type of spirituality of sound that comes from these holy souls, from these blood brothers, blood that runs within centuries. And even if wer’re not connected by appearence, whn we met we knew that exists a transcendental connection that we could feel through your voices, friendship, brotherhood and mainly the joy that comes from the simple things, that comes from being happy and creating happiness in the faces of others.
Knowing you made me feel alive.
Thank you very much!”
Junior, Monte Azul
Africa in Brazil
“The best two weeks of my entire life. It feels like yesterday. We felt home as soon as we landed at the airport. The experience was overwhelming, it was overwhelming because I felt home, felt home because the african culture was very respected and appreciated.
I was so touched by the discipline that is instilled in the children of Monte Azul.
It was also amazing that in Monte Azul I felt the African communism, I felt Africa in Brazil. The youth is very appreciating and amitious, as well as talented. Excellent in hospitality. Monte Azul is where my desire to start an NGO was accelerated.
In Monte Azul I met wonderful kids like Bruno, I met young talented girls like Tayane, I found great hearts like Mira, I found sisters like Siphesihle, I found mothers like Ute, found fathers like Nelson and in Monte Azul I found Africa. In Monte Azul I found home. And I shall return home in a few years time.”
Sifiso Thanduluntu Mtyityaba, part of Vulamasango
Photographs by Mira Hill and Lina Selg