Professor Anum and students at the Fundaçao in Salvador, Bahia.

"Projeto Capoerê" was begun in the 1990's through the efforts of Mestre Nenel and several students. Thanks to government funding, fifteen nuclei were opened throughout Salvador, projects in which children received capoeira classes, educational workshops and nutritious snacks, while having to continue their studies in school as a condition of admission. Unfortunately, with a change in government, the Capoerê's funding was entirely withdrawn, and although a few social organizations who perceived the unique quality of the work insisted on continuing to fund projects, only five of the nuclei were saved. Despite this devastating situation, Mestre Nenel continued working with the support of former students of Mestre Bimba and current students, striving to strengthen the Filhos de Bimba capoeira school, believing that the day would come when the tide would turn.  These projects changed the lives of many children who faced a bleak future in low income communities. Many of our school's current professors, talented capoeiristas like Anum, Berimbau and Tatá were once children in the Capoerê Project. Today they teach capoeira in Salvador or as far away as Croatia and England, benefitting from opportunities that they could never have dreamt of before.

The dream of opening another Capoerê project began percolating in my mind in March of 2008 when some of my students and I participated in a celebration of the Capoerê nucleus at the Fundação, the mother school in Salvador da Bahia.  It became obvious to all of us that the power of capoeira to transform peoples' lives is both simple and effective.  We knew that by sending money to the school, we could have faith that it would be used to do fantastic work.  We also felt deeply indebted to the Filhos de Bimba for the incredible enrichment that they have brought to our lives in Toronto and we wanted to give back somehow...  

Mestre Nenel's first visit to Toronto in May of 2009 touched many of us profoundly.  Before the visit, I only knew Mestre Nenel as a caring and charismatic, but distant figure.  I have since come to have a deep respect and faith in him both as a capoeira Mestre and as a person of rare integrity.  His philosophy and attitude both inside and outside of capoeira are inspirational to me, which has only increased my determination to involve our school in a Capoerê project.  

We have since formed a small committee, the Toronto Capoerê Project, which is open to any interested parties.   We welcome ideas and additional resources.  As much as we are "helping the kids" in Salvador, our participation is enriching our own lives in innumerable ways.  The committee is bubbling over with short-term and long-term ideas.  In June of 2009, with our financial support, Mestre Nenel launched a new Capoerê project in Vale das Pedrinhas, a low-income neighbourhood of Salvador.  We already have 35 children participating and being taught by two instructors whose salaries are paid through our funding.  We hope that you will feel inspired to join us in the Project.  It only takes $400 a month to run this particular Capoerê project, so every little bit helps.

The sky's the limit once we start pooling our resources together!
Thank you and Blessings / Muito axé!
Lang (Professora Estrelinha)