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It is well known that people look after places and things they care about, feel empathy for, take pride in. I believe the reverse is also true, that people who see themselves or their environment as being of little or no value, will cease to care and become indifferent to degradation.

With this in mind I was thrilled to hear that RARE was coming to Brazil and specifically to Prainha. I first heard of RARE’s conservation work some years back and  was impressed by the simplicity of their idea, find solutions that have worked and replicate them. Click here to check out RARE’s web site.

RARE has a 25 year history of working with communities in over 50 countries, educating and inspiring change “so people and nature thrive”. By seeking out conservation solutions that have worked, training local leaders to replicate and adapt those solutions for their communities individual needs and then using proven marketing techniques, RARE’s Pride campaigns give people the motivation and skills they need to create change that lasts.

Prainha was picked as one of the first within a handful of locations that RARE had chosen to work with in Brazil and over the last year a local man, Lindomar, has been receiving training by RARE to facilitate the campaign in the village.

I was delighted when it was suggested that I write a blog about the progress of the campaign in Prainha but that was before Neu’s health went AWOL last year. Communication in the village is mostly by word of mouth, which generally passes me by and in the past I would rely on Neu to let me know what was going on but now he is out of the loop too. Knowing this, I asked to be given advance warning of meetings so I could plan ahead and attend if at all possible but it would seem my request fell on deaf ears. I’m sure people assume I have other things on my mind and don`t want to bother me but it’s frustrating not to be involved in a project in which I have so much faith and seriously limits what I can write about.

What I can say is that last weekend the Campanha de Orgulho (Pride campaign) really got going in Prainha with events and festivities on Friday and Saturday, culminating with a regatta on Sunday.

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Earlier in the week there was a competition in the school, with children being divided into groups and then tasked with finding out about one of the five fish most commonly caught by the fishermen here: King makerel (Cavala) Spanish makerel (Serra) Lane snapper (Ariacó) Yellow jack (Guarajuba) & Snook (Robalo). The children’s work was judged on Friday and I’m pleased to say that our son was part of the winning group who had researched the Snook.

The mascot of the campaign, a Queen trigger fish (Cangulo) was also introduced. This fish was once a common sight in Prainha but then commercial fishing virtually wiped the species out. Now, with the implementation of the marine reserve in Prainha’s waters and the sustainable fishing practises used therein, this colourful carnivalesque fish is returning and hopefully will once again become a familiar sight.

Saturday saw workshops and talks held in the community centre during the day (sadly I didn’t know about any of these so have nothing to report) and a cultural event in the evening which I couldn’t attend. From speaking to those who did go, both the day time and evening events were well attended and very well received.

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Sunday saw the regatta. Neu’s dad took us down on the mule drawn cart as Neu can’t walk that far yet. Neu was a little nervous about going down to the beach, mainly because his heart was breaking for not being able to take part and as much as he wanted to go, he knew he would find it hard to just be a spectator.

Down at the beach there was a stage with a band and the Cangulo mascot, who must have lost several kilos and been in danger of heat exhaustion (it’s hot enough here as is without a thick layer of padding and tights) dancing about and doing the mascot’s job in the sweltering heat, well done whoever you were.

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Cangulo mascot and in the foreground the basic foods parcel awarded to the participants of the regatta

 

Each of the Jangadas taking place in the regatta had a new sail, all beautifully painted with the campaign logo, sponsors names etc and one of the most common fish (as named above) or the cangulo. Many people were sporting the beautifully designed campaign T-shirts and hats, as later were we when we were given ours.

The campaign logo on a sail. Fish, Conserve, Prosper.

The campaign logo on a sail. Fish, Conserve, Prosper.

The first race got underway before we made it to the beach but Neu sat with some his friends to watch the events unfold, while I went off to take some photos.  Our friend Menes’ boat, being crewed by other friends, was out in front virtually from the off. Poor Menes was a bag of nerves as the race went on, praying that their lead would be maintained, which thankfully it was.

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Menes’ boat coming in first

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Down at the shoreline as his boat finished first and the crowd leapt all over him and then began carrying him and his boat up the beach, Menes showed how generous his heart is by shouting for me to get Neu so they could have a photo together and share the victory a little, that meant so much to both of us.

There were three different boat categories racing that day, we could only stay to see the 2nd and 3rd category races get under way, which they did almost concurrently but by then Neu was worn out and we had to return home. It had been an emotionally exhausting day for both of us but especially for him. Later that night I saw Neu more upset than I have seen him in a long time it was a tough end to a fun day.

When you or someone you love, suffer from a chronic illness, it is so easy to become isolated, people trying to be kind think it best not to bother you with stuff, which increases the sense of isolation. I know Neu is desperate to feel he has some worth, after all he can no longer fish, he can’t do anything calling for physical effort and is dependant on others for for pretty much everything. Knowing someone thought his opinion of enough value to ask him to attend a meeting, would go a long way to boosting his self esteem, even if he wasn’t up to actually attending.

Personally I would love to have something other than Neu’s health to think about every now and then. I was honoured to have been asked to write the blog for the RARE campaign in Prainha and writing is for me an all absorbing pleasure but like I said before, I can’t write about things if I don’t know they are happening but it was great to see the campaign get off to such a good start and hopefully there will be many more events which I will know about and on which I can report in future.

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