Tag Archives: Children

Children’s songs from Bahia

Girl from Chapada dos Guimarães, Bahia. Photo by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr
Girl from Chapada dos Guimarães, Bahia. Photo by Otávio Nogueira/Flickr

Listen to these wonderful children songs from the countryside of the Southwest region of Bahia state, collected by Project Cantigas de Infância. It was conceived by Christiana Fausto, that spent her childhood in that region, and wanted to keep the memory of those songs alive. She collected their lyrics and partitions and also 18 downloadable songs. They speak of love, family, complex relationships – or challenge you with tongue twisters.

Con cuis cuis

Moda do viuvo

Meriana

O Ze

Read also: Scary Brazilian Lullabies

 

Brazilian cities under the microscope

Downtown Veranópolis, in the Southern Rio Grande do Sul state

People don’t live in countries or states – they live in cities. Ultimately, it’s the local government, infrastructure and cultural services that define one’s quality of life. And quality of life in Brazilian cities is changing quickly, according to a study just released by IBGE (the main national statistics bureau). For the first time in ten years, IBGE raised information from 5,565 local governments to draw the profile the country’s municipalities.

Overall, they seem to be offering more sports and cultural opportunities, but they still have to improve their policies concerning the environment, minorities and human rights.

The report’s main conclusions:

  • Bookstores can be found in only 28% of Brazilian cities (it was 35.5% in 1999). Apparently, book sales remain similar, because readers prefer to acquire them through the internet or in supermarkets. Also, the number of video rental stores is getting smaller, after many years of growth. Today, they can be found in almost 70% of Brazilian cities, but they are losing their costumers to cable TV and the internet.

Continue reading Brazilian cities under the microscope

Millenium goals on the way

Brazil is well positioned to achieve the Millennium Goals – the eight development objectives that the United Nations member states are supposed to attain till 2015. The federal government just released the fourth annual report detailing the country’s progress and the results are definitely encouraging.

Among its main conclusions (to make this easier on your brain, green indicates good news;  orange, neutral. No item was fully bad, according to the report):

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Around 25.6% of the Brazilian population lived on less than $1 a day in 1990. The target for 2015 is 12.8%, but this number was down to 4.8% in 2008.

In 1996, 4.2% of the children were underweight. The target for 2015 is 2.1%, but the most recent statistics (2006) indicate that  hunger is now affecting 1.8% of this population.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

  • Around 95% of the Brazilian kids between 7 and 14 years old are enrolled in schools.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

  • For every 100 boys studying, there are 93.8 girls (in primary education) and 133.2 (in secondary education).

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

  • In 1990, there were 53.7 deaths of children under five per thousand babies born alive. In 2008, this number was down to 22.8. The 2015 target is 17.9.

Continue reading Millenium goals on the way

Scary Brazilian lullabies

Photo by Alan L/Flickr
Photo by Alan L/Flickr

Most Brazilian lullabies and children songs are scary like hell. Some of them are not exactly child-appropriate. Or human-appropriate.

Check this hit parade:

  • The big classic “Atirei o Pau no Gato”, that says: I hit a cat with a stick, but he didn’t die. Mrs. Chica was surprised by the cat’s cry.
  • What about the morbid “A Canoa Virou“: the canoe turned down, because someone let it happen: [name of the kid] didn’t know how to row. If I were a little fish and knew how to swim, I would rescue [the kid] from the bottom of the sea. Continue reading Scary Brazilian lullabies

Brazil, 20 years from now

From the Chrystal Ball series:

The Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology released today a study that outlines how the country and the planet will (probably) evolve in the next 20 years. Produced by the Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, the document offers a time line based on several sources. It is meant to help government plan its future strategies.

Part of its content is easily predictable, considering recent tendencies. But there are some surprises.

Among its main forecasts:

Economy

  • In four years, Brazil will go back to its tradition of successive commercial balance deficits
  • Brazilian Gross Domestic Product will be 925 billion dollars in 2015 (which means, less than our present GDP, around 1.6 trillion dollars. It is not very clear how Goldman Sachs, the original source of this information, came up with this number)
  • Brazil, the brand, will increase its value. The demand for products associated to the country’s cultural diversity will grow

Keep reading

Haiti is here

Zilda Arns
Zilda Arns

O Haiti é aqui. O Haiti não é aqui” (Haiti is here. Haiti is not here), sings Caetano Veloso. Today this sounds quite prophetic. The catastrophic earthquake that destroyed Haiti – a country that has its own share of misfortunes – had also a big impact in Brazil.

The Brazilian Army coordinates the United Nations Peace Force, created after the huge 2004 rebellion, and keeps over 1,200 men deployed in Haiti. Eleven of them died yesterday. The earthquake also killed Zilda Arns Neumann. This 75-year-old pediatrician, three times nominated for the Peace Nobel Prize, was the coordinator of Pastoral da Criança, a non-profit linked to the Catholic Church that accumulates victories in the fight against child mortality. The Pastoral has 238,000 volunteers, follows closely the health evolution of almost 1.6 million Brazilian children, and has similar projects in 20 countries, including Haiti.

A few Brazilian organizations are working in the after-earthquake effort. One of them is Viva Rio, that transferred to Bel Air, a slum close to Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, their expertise in fighting urban violence. They helped promoting peace treaties, creating a security brigade and teaching capoeira. Now, they are collecting donations. Brazilian government also announced it will send $ 15 million and 28 tons of food to the Haitians.

Long life to Brazilians

São Paulo, Sunday afternoon/ Blablaurgh/Flickr

The land of youth, beauty and barely-there outfits is getting old. Brazilians are living at least three years more than ten years ago. IBGE, the federal  bureau of statistics, released today a study showing that the life expectancy at birth is 72.86 years, superior to the world’s average of 67.58 years. In Brazil, both men and women are living longer but, as it happens elsewhere, there is a huge gap between them – men live, in average, 69.11 years. Women, 76.71. In 20 years, the elder population should be as numerous as the younger one (read about the decrease in the country’s fertility in a previous post).

Of course, Brazil is still behind developed countries, such as Japan, Switzerland, France or Italy, where life expectancy is beyond 81 years. But, according to the IBGE, the country should reach that milestone in 30 years.

The institute also informs that child mortality is  falling. Since 1970, it fell from 100 to 23.3 deaths per thousand babies born alive. This means more than 200.000 deaths of children were avoided in the last decade.

Finally, young men are still at very high risk of dying violently. Every day, 68 men between 15 and 24 years old die of what the IBGE calls “external causes” – accidents and homicides. This makes a total of 272,000 in one decade. The number of women dying of similar causes is up to nine times smaller.

Most of these numbers – apart from the one associated with violence, which is an old tendency – portrait a country that is changing very, very fast. I bet with you a caipirinha that in a few decades Brazil will have a dramatically different demographics .

Less undernourished, more overweight

Brazilian women stay slim, while men are getting fatter and fatter. Mal-nutrition and child mortality are falling, but diabetes is on the raise.

Brazilian health report
Campaign in Olinda, Pernambuco, against kidney diseases

This is one of the conclusions of a study released today by the Brazilian Health Ministry, portraying the state of the population’s physical condition.
The conclusions are, for the most part, positive. Here, a quick summary of the main conclusions:
• Weight – Around 43% of those over 18 living in state capitals are overweight. The reality in smaller cities and in the countryside is similar. The Ministry blames unhealthy eating habits and the reduction in physical activities. Boys from 10 to 19 years-old increased their Body Mass Index in 82.2% in only 29 years. The girls of the same age had a growth of 70.3% in their BMI. The good news: women kept their weight stable since the 90s. Obesity is specially intense among poorest populations.
• Height – Brazilians are growing fast – women twice as fast as men. The average male raised 1.9 centimeters (0.75 inches) and is, in average, 1.70 meters (5.57 feet) tall. The average woman grew 3,3 centimeters (1.29 inches) to 1.58 meters ( 5.18 feet).
• Diabetes – The growth of obesity is raising the number of deaths of diabetes, mainly among men older than 40. On the other hand, less women under 20 and 39 are diabetic.
• Cardiovascular health– Less Brazilians are dying of heart diseases. It fell 20.5% between 1990 and 2006. The Health Ministry believes this is because the population is more educated and there is a growing effort to prevent those diseases.
• Mal-nutrition – The number of undernourished kids under five fell 50% in  in 10 years – from 13.4% of the total to 6.7%, in 2006. According to the Health Ministry, mal-nutrition might be totally eliminated in Brazil in a period of 10 or 15 years.
• Diarrhea – The number of kids under one year old that die of diarrhea – normally related to the fact part of the population doesn’t have access to treated water and is exposed to uncollected sewage – fell 93.9% in 25 years. It used to be the second main cause of infant mortality in the country. Now it is the fourth (most deaths are associated to congenital diseases or postpartum problems). In 1990, the index of child mortality used to be 47.1 deaths per thousand babies born alive. In 2007, it was around 19.3 deaths – a reduction of 59,7%.

This is a very interesting evolution. Nevertheless, it is hard to understand how the cardiovascular diseases were controlled, while overweight and diabetes are not. Could you come up with some logical explanation?

5 million workers under age

child labor and slavery in Brazil

One hundred and eleven years after Brazil abolished slavery, the number of workers deprived of their freedom is still huge. They raise cattle, produce charcoal, sugar cane or timber. Some of them, most undocumented Bolivians, work in basements of small apparel factories in São Paulo and other metropolis.
According to the latest official statistics, the country also counts at least 1.2 million young workers between the ages of 5 and 13 – even if Brazilian law forbids those under 14 to work. If you add teens up to 18 years-old, you will have more than 5 million underage Brazilians in the market place. A huge percentage of them receive no salary.
This number includes teens “adopted” informally to work as housekeepers and submitted to very long hours. It also includes many sexual workers. Brazil’s highway police recently identified more than 1,800 truck stops around the country where minors offer sexual services .
A report released in September by the US Department of Labor, aiming to shed lights on “exploitative working conditions in the production of goods” in 77 countries, concludes that there is fair evidence that several Brazilian industries are responsible for perpetrating these irregular labor practices.

But the report also acknowledges that the government “has taken an exemplary, multifaceted approach to the elimination of child and forced labor”. It has “improved its legislative framework, enforced these laws effectively, established targeted action plans to combat child labor, forced labor, and trafficking in persons”, among other initiatives.

Last October, Brazil and a few other countries signed an agreement to work together to eradicate child labor by 2020, with the support of the International Labor Organization.

The Brazilian government also created the so-called “Dirty List” (Lista Suja) of forced labor cases, including the names of companies and property owners who use workers under forced labor conditions. In my former job, as a Social and Environmental risk analyst for Banco Real, one of the main financial institutions in the country, we wouldn’t offer credit to companies included in the Dirty List without promoting extensive auditing of their labor conditions and verifying their compliance to a series of laws.

There are, in fact, evidences that all these federal initiatives are pretty effective.

Between 2003 and 2008, almost 27 thousand people submitted to forced labor were released. Child labor has been steadily declining (in the early nineties, there were around 8 million under age workers in the country). One of the reasons is that the Brazilian economy and middle class are growing. Many families that had to find their kids a job now afford to keep them in school.

It is still not good enough. Civil society and the government have to increase their engagement in this combat against labor practices that are both shameful and deeply rooted.