Technology Choice Matrix Workshop – Casa dos meninos

On August 17th, Bem Estar Brasil Institute facilitated a dynamic that marked the beginning of the education project at Casa dos Meninos. To help us in this task, we studied the methodology called: ‘technology choice matrix’ presented to us by the collective Redes AC in our visit to Cherán.

Our activity started in the kitchen. As soon as we arrived, Fatima, the house’s chief financial officer and web developer, greeted us while chopping onions; she was starting to prepare lunch. As each participant arrived for the meeting, women and men alike rolled up their sleeves and made themselves useful. All the tasks were quickly accomplished: making coffee, ginger tea, chopping vegetables, making rice, beans, chicken, washing dishes, opening and closing the fridge … two neighbors arrived with a plate … In half an hour there was lunch for over 20 people.

We all ate lunch together, 15 participants of the activity and other neighborhood residents who joined the meal. Over lunch, neighbor Maria, a former president of Casa dos Meninos, shared joyful stories of decades past. She told of boys who attended the orphanage in the 1980s and sometimes visited the house. “I planted that tree with Silva” or “I helped make that bank,” they said in those moments of remembrance.

Cleodon Silva Meeting Room – In honor of the influential Brazilian union leader

To help us get active after lunch educator Claudia pulled a fun warm up momentum. Amid laughter and shifted shoes, we began the activity that afternoon.

The exercise involved all those responsible for the continuing education project in community networks, a very distinct and dedicated group. On one side there was the current house staff and residents interested in supporting the project, including the 3 scholarship monitors patroned by Instituto Bem Estar Brasil. On the other side there were volunteers from other neighborhoods, 3 teachers from the audiovisual and software development fronts and other friends of Casa dos Meninos.

The first step of the Technology Choice Matrix is about memory. This is a very persist theme in an organization with more than 50 years of history, which was born as an orphanage of boys and went through so many transformations over the years. There is not a day of activities that this past of social assistance is not mentioned, especially the name of Cleodon Silva, former collaborator and the one responsible to bring the technology perspective in their work with youth.

Because os the limited time we had, we proposed a summarized timeline. Each participant wrote 3 post its. They could choose between 2 colors: blue would be memories of Casa dos meninos and yellow personal moments of transformation envolving technology. Each person presented their memories and put them in the year they belonged on the timeline.

The purpose of this activity was not to map all activities of the House, but to contextualize some activities that participants considered vital and to initiate dialogue between volunteers and external participants with the community.

Then we started looking at the Technology Selection Matrix, a methodology built by Redes AC through its work with indigenous peoples of Mexico. The first step of this methodology is to look at the present; who we are. Where we are. What we do.

We split into 3 mixed groups combining community residents and guests. This was an important listening moment for the volunteers, where they could learn about that territory, its characteristics and challenges.

Community Discussion Group: Our Starting Point

Casa dos Meninos is an urban institution on the outskirts of São Paulo, so some categories such as ‘language’, ‘traditions’ and ‘biodiversity’ were less evident than in other contexts. Jardim São Luis, the neighborhood where the House is located, shares many characteristics with the other under-developed neighborhoods of São Paulo. Such as:

  • Large concentration of people (20,000 in 1km square)
  • Houses originating from irregular urban occupations
  • Urban violence
  • Geography with multiple hills
  • Presence of various styles of music such as funk, forró, rap, among others.

Also several unique features were raised by the residents:

  • A large presence of Northeast immigrants, especially from Pernambuco and Bahia states
  • Close relationship with social movements
  • Greater urban violence among adolescents
  • Lack of living spaces compared to other neighborhoods, especially for young and old people
Phase 1: Starting point

The next step was to get together as a group to talk about the dreams and goals of Casa dos meninos.

What do we dream?

“The construction of a youth and community reference, enpowered of the new technologies and sensitized to a political / social action. An industry that builds new understandings. The appreciation of individual and collective potential. That Casa dos meninos remain a space for construction, learning and opportunities. ”

Phase 2: How do we choose technology

The last step was to think of intranet network design as a tool to help achieve this dream. It is clear to all the participants that the intranet network project would contribute to this proposal, as it represents the “construction of a mirror on the community that reflects it”. With two integrated teaching fronts; technical and political, its main objectives were defined as:

  • Set up the network
  • Train young people, ages 14 to 18, that have little experience as technology creators
  • Work of monitors as facilitators and responsible for assisting in documentation

The main anticipated difficulty in this project was how to integrate both fronts in order to create meaningful intranet use. Some proposed solutions for this were:

  • Relevant content on the network
  • Affection
  • Sensitivity to youth demands
  • Having spaces for dialogue and training between tutors / facilitators

How the participants felt

In the final evaluation of the exercise the participants mentioned that 4 hours was a short time for this exercise and that its final phase was rushed. But all reported being inspired by the challenges of the project and grateful to be part of that team.

We at Instituto Bem Bem Brasil were very happy with the invitation to tutor this activity and look forward to the formation work with the youth of Casa dos Meninos!

“As two and two are four
I know life is worth it
Although bread is expensive
and the freedoms are small”
Ferreira Gullar