It is hard to recognize a miracle when you are in it, that’s where Felipe Ferreira started talking. A resident of Aldeia, in Guarujá, he is GSA 2014.
To know that a Miracle surrounds us, we need to train our eyes to look for the little signs coming from all sides. To be open to the impossible, before our very eyes. In Felipe’s case, the first encounter was when he was young: a great passion for fighting. Years later, it was this love that delivered into his hands a tool to transform his neighborhood: Jiu Jitsu. It was with her that Felipe started working with children, building the New Dreams Institute. But a good story is one with many small miracles along the way, like this one.
“I was getting ready to bury Hendrick, a son I lost a few days after he was born, in a moment of great pain. When a partner called me to solve some problems”. Back then Felipe did many things, not all of which he is proud of today. At the age of 20, life was a whirlwind of emotions and paths. “I explained that I couldn’t go, he went alone. Then I learned that he was shot six times. He’s in a wheelchair. That moved me.”
After a few days, the same story. With another friend. More and more noises of gunshots, the painful news of a departure that plunged him into a depression that remembers every detail, so long afterwards. Then came a light. Light is one of the manifestations of miracle:
“Kinho said he didn’t want to go back to the wrong life anymore, that he would only leave work when he died.” Felipe thought a lot about who offers opportunities to those who want to transform themselves, he didn’t see many such opportunities around. He left his job, invited his old company to be the first partner of New Dreams, she accepted. That’s how the classes started. We only exist with others.
A lot has happened in the last 10 years, the time the institute has been alive. Along the way, Felipe has clung to the utopia of a world radically better than today to get through the most difficult days. And they were not few. 2020 was the highest place of discouragement, of a personal belief that he was doing it all wrong somehow: he felt alone, with a giant responsibility on his back that he couldn’t carry alone; without many ideas of how to go forward. It was the beginning of the greatest pandemic of the 21st century, COVID-19. The community would need Felipe, but Felipe needed himself. To find himself again. The hyenas entered the story.
“The hyena is the slum of the Savannah, have you ever stopped to think about it?”. I had never thought about it, and he continues: “When they are together, they make a lot of noise. They stand out because they always walk in packs, making a mess wherever they go. They do everything collectively, never abandoning a companion. Felipe was at home one day, mixed up in the discouragement above, when he heard a voice asking him: research more about them. And there he went to study the archetype, he kept it when he came out on the other side of the studies: “How amazing an animal that thinks so much of each other. And here I am, wanting to be the hero of my community.” He tattooed a hyena on his arm, never to forget: none of us is more important than all of us together. The “We for We” Pedagogy was born this way.
Everyone in the world knows something. We go through life like this, using these little talents we have, pulling them out of our pockets day after day: how to drive a nail here, how to sew a curtain there, the right way to paint the wall so it doesn’t get stained. Or, the most careful way to attend to a person and help them solve a problem. Talent is everything we put into play. This is the principle of his pedagogy: to build a community of people who exchange what they know for what they need.
It works like a Talent Bank, open to all residents of the Village. They offer something they know how to do to the New Dreams Institute – it can be taking care of the reception for three hours a day, or painting the facade that needs a hand – and in exchange, the organization maps out the needs of each person, runs around the world to ask for: a basket of basic food items, a hygiene kit. Change is hard, Felipe said. He explained many, many times that it was necessary to transform the way people looked at New Dreams: from a place where I go to get what I need to a place where I help build, on a daily basis, offering what I know. Taking home what I need.