Thursday, May 9, 2013

Interview with Gabriela Pinheiro

On Wednesday I sat down with Gabriela Pinheiro, Institutional Relations Manager at Fight for Peace to talk about her recent trip to Lima, Peru to receive the "Sport for All" grant from the International Olympic Committee on behalf of Fight For Peace. Read her interview below to see her thoughts on the experience and what this award means for the future of Fight for Peace.


Why were you in Peru?

I went to Lima to receive the IOC’s Sport for All grant on behalf of Fight for Peace. We were amongst three organizations in the world that received this award. There was one from Peru, one from South Africa, and us from Brazil.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the award? 

It was a recognition of excellence for working in sports with everyone. We here at Fight for Peace work with all kinds of young people, no matter their situation when they arrive at our door. Specifically, we won in the “Partnerships” category for our Global Alumni Programme, which creates partnerships with local NGOs around the world, and requires us to collaborate with other international organizations to help us select these organizations.

And what did Fight for Peace have to do to reach this point to win this award?

Well, I think through our thirteen years of work we have learned a lot. We made mistakes in the past, but thanks to them we’ve learned how to do what we do well. Three years ago we started writing our processes and methodology for the Global Alumni Program, and everything that worked along these years resulted in the innovation that we have now. We are able to replicate what we are doing in Brazil. We did it in London, and we can and are doing it in many other countries as well.

What does this IOC award mean for Fight for Peace and its future?

Well I think it’s a huge recognition for our work. The criteria that the IOC sets is very rigorous. I think if you receive these awards, it’s because they truly believe you are making a difference. Even the moderator kept telling us that not many people do this kind of work in violent communities. And it’s not because of the social legacy or that we just started doing this work from now until the Olympics in 2016; we’ve been doing it for 13 years.

I think for the future, we will start working towards building relationships within Brazil. We are more well known abroad than in Brazil, so now I’ve spoken with people from the Brazilian Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Sport of Brazil, so I think this will bring awareness to many levels in the world of sports, and I think we will make partnerships, receive further government funding, etc.

Can y
ou tell me more about the presentation that you gave in Lima? 

Well the IOC moderator interviewed me and three other organizations in front of an audience of 500 people. It was kind of like a talk show (laughs). Because the Global Alumni Programme won the prize, I had to talk more specifically about that although in fact I was asked many questions about the Fight for Peace organisation in general, about our work with at-risk young people and especially about gender. They really enjoyed knowing that we worked with girls as well.

How was your interview received amongst the audience?

I received a lot of compliments. When I finished talking and the session was over, everyone at the conference came to talk with me about what a wonderful job we do, and that Fight For Peace is a real model that works. Up until the last day, people were coming to introduce themselves. I spoke with everyone from the special advisor of the United Nations for Sports Development and Peace, to a woman in Canada that has a ballet program that works with girls that wanted to know about our gender programme at Fight for Peace. I couldn’t believe that what I said during the interview would have this huge impact, you know? It was very positive response.

Did you get to see a lot of Lima? Where did you visit?

On the first day, we were in the best part of Lima: beautiful, clean, and delicious food. But later that same day, I was invited by Beyond Sport to visit the Peruvian project that won the same award as us. They were about 30kms away from the city in a community that was just like the favela we are in based in Maré. I was shocked by the similarity of the physical landscape.

The founder is a priest of the Catholic Church, and he said that when we started his programme fifteen years ago it was very violent, with gangs, shootings, like everything that we experience right now in Maré. And he was able to change a lot of that reality through football. He works with over 400 children, all males. We didn’t see girls in his project. That was a big conversation that I had with them, how we at Fight For Peace attract girls even though we work with boxing and martial arts. They were very interested in that.

So how did the communities that are affected by crime and violence in Lima compare to the communities here in Rio?

I was not there long enough to make any sort of developed analysis, but I did see a lot of similarities. I didn’t see guns in the streets like I do here, but I saw the poverty. Another interesting thing I saw was the involvement of parents. They were very involved with the kids. We do have parents involved here, but I think at a lower level.

What were your overall impressions of the IOC event?

I had a very positive impression. It was a very big conference of over 500 participants and it was very well organized with interesting subjects and networking events. I think it was really good for us at Fight For Peace. I made a lot of connections such as the IOC Commission, the Ministry of Sports, the International Judo Federation, people from all types of sport throughout the world.

Do you think that experience at the IOC will change the work you do here at Fight For Peace?

I wouldn’t say it would change the way we work – our Founder & Director Luke always tells us never to ask but instead to just show the great work we do. Some organisations take the angle of being poor and needing money but here at Fight For Peace we look for things and we go after them. We don’t try to paint a sad story of being from the favelas and that donors should help because we are poor. No we don’t do this. We show that if you give an opportunity to people, they can grow and become stars – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

* Read the interview online here.

No comments: