On my last post, I mentioned that I would use this opportunity to talk more directly about Programa Raízes Locais programming. Though I promise to get to the awesome programs that PRL offers, I think it is important to do an overview of the Terra dos Homens methodology. ABTH's methodology is guided by the right of all children and adolescents to live within a family (in all of its numerous possibilities and permutations) and a community. For this reason, many of their interventions focus on young people who have been institutionalized in shelters, who are living on the street, or who are at risk of having their rights violated through various forms of violence.
With this in mind, ABTH understands children as active members of a family (however individuals within that family choose to define themselves), which is in turn understood as a system with various subsystems (generational relationships, gender dynamics, siblings, adults, children), and as a system that relates to larger systems (community, local government, state). Though the rights of children and adolescents are ABTH's main concern, this systems approach takes the family as the focal point, because of the belief that the right to live in families and communities is a prerequisite for other rights (education, health, recreation). Because ABTH fieldworkers are either already part of one of these systems (usually as community members) or are entering these systems (say by starting a community-based project), their work is inherently reflexive--they seek to work with families to ensure that the rights of children are met, rather than "against" or "for" the family.
Mapping is a critical part of the ABTH methodology, enabling fieldworkers and families to visualize these systems and subsystems.
An ecomap shows the relationship between the family and the community it lives in. For example, the Conselho Tutelar is an elected, local government body responsible for securing the rights of children and adolescents. The families that ABTH works with may have strong relationships with certain local services, such as a health clinic, but may be unaware of the services offered by their local Conselho Tutelar.
When ABTH first arrived in Mangueirinha, one of the organization's first tasks was to develop an ecomap of the community. As I mentioned last week, ABTH began by first renting a room in the local Child and Family Services building. During this time they were able to make an ecomap of the community and then develop possible intervention projects. Like many favelas, Mangueirinha has a complex relationship with the municipality of Duque de Caxias. For many residents, the police were the only government services that they interacted with on a regular basis. ABTH documents describe that many local politicians at the time engaged in forms of vote buying, promising local services in exchange for votes, creating a sense of dependence on a few powerful families.