BeginIT Volunteers: Anastasia and Slava, Brazil
10 March 2020, Tuesday

The BeginIT project announces a new rubric: Volunteers, we will talk about people who care about education and charity. Our volunteers are one of the most important parts of the BeginIT project.

Our first heroes are Anastasia Vilas Boas and Stanislav Troskin. They help us with search of new participants for the BeginIT project in Brazil. This is a new country for our project. They come from Russia, but have long been living and working in Recife. Charity is very near to their hearts. Recently, they visited the OAF do Recife Educational Organization for Vulnerable Children and handed them stationery, which they had collected all over the office.

We talked with them about the situation with education in Brazil and what difficulties they encountered in finding participants for the BeginIT project.


Tell us a little about yourselves. 

Stanislav: I have been living and working in Brazil for the second year now, I came to develop inDriver in this region.

Anastasia: I married a Brazilian and we moved to my husband’s homeland, I have been living here for the sixth year. And I also work in inDriver, I am a marketing manager.

What difficulties did you face while searching of participants?

There were and still are many difficulties. In Brazil, the situation with orphanages and educational institutions for children from vulnerable groups leaves much to be desired. In Russia, we are used to the fact that orphanages and boarding schools have government support and enough sponsors. Everything is different here. The state is not coping, and there are not many private sponsors, since charity is taxed heavily.

It was difficult to find educational institutions suitable for implementing the BeginIT project. Many of them do not even have the minimum necessary requirements - there are not even enough beds for children, not to mention classrooms, and even less so computer classes. We try to help such orphanages whenever possible. Recently we held the garage sale fair at all our offices, we spent all the proceeds on the purchase of food for a temporary children's home. Yes, sometimes there is lack of food. 

Why is information technology so important for children?

Information technology is not even the future to which you must be prepared, it is the present, dictating its own requirements, from the everyday skills of a simple city dweller to the qualifications of even ordinary employees. Today's children will have to live in a world where some professions will cease to exist. They will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. The population of the Earth continues to grow, which makes competition in the labor market more acute. Under these conditions, knowledge and skills in the field of information technology become necessary. But, unfortunately, the educational systems of many countries are not yet ready for this. Technologies are developing faster than curricula are changing even in prestigious private schools, not to mention the educational institutions with which the BeginIT project works. Now this educational gap is usually filled by parents. But not all parents have such opportunities, and sometimes, unfortunately, there are no parents. We, both the company and our employees, sincerely would like to see that children looking to the future with confidence. It’s very cool, if we are able to give them the necessary knowledge and skills, and even cooler if one of them after that decides to connect his future profession with the IT world or other intellectual fields of work.

How is the situation with education in Brazil?

With education in Brazil, not everything is as good as we would like. In the ratings of the quality of education, it is in very low positions. For example, the Education Index 2019, annually compiled by the UN, assigned Brazil 92 out of 189, which, of course, is very far from developed countries. Neighboring Argentina, for example, takes 29th place in the same ranking. This is due, first of all, to the huge share of the population living below the poverty line. And, of course, to corruption. Quality education is only in paid private schools. For those children with whom BeginIT works, it is almost impossible to get it.

Tell us about the situation with the children.

Children studying at the OAF school, with whom we cooperate in the project, are children from disadvantaged families and orphans. These are the inhabitants of the favela (ed.: favela - slums in the cities of Brazil, often located on the slopes of the mountains). Some of them, when they came to school as a teenager, do not know how to read and write, they do not even have the means to provide food and clothing. The school provides them with all of this and helps their families whenever possible.

The OAF School exists solely on donations, without any government support. This is the merit of a wonderful team and their leader - Roxanne Nader, who, with their own enthusiasm, seek out opportunities, solve numerous problems, and, as a result, provide students with a good level of education, help in career guidance, getting a profession, entering schools and in finding work. In general, these are people kindred to us in spirit who believe in ideas of development, personal and professional growth, and that true values ​​are intangible.

How are you looking for participants? Can you describe the process?

We contact with orphanages, schools and public organizations working with children from unsecured families and orphans in different cities of Brazil, we negotiate with them about cooperation, telling about our project.

Searching for participants here is not so easy. State educational institutions have “requirements”; various bureaucratic approval procedures must be passed, which sometimes drags the process to deadlines that last to infinity.

Non-state ones often do not have the technical capabilities or even a suitable room. By the way, even public institutions do not always have it.

Having finally agreed with the educational institution, we begin the process of finding a teacher and formalizing relations with him, which is also not easy in Brazil because of the complex labor legislation.

And finally, having gathered a group of children and trained a teacher, we begin programming classes on a special online platform.

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In addition to working under the BeginIT project, my colleagues and I provide all possible assistance in the form of donations. For example, recently, we collected two boxes of office supplies and handed them over to the OAF. The fact is that the stationery here is very expensive. Even a simple notebook with 24 sheets costs 60-80 rubles, a simple ballpoint pen - 16 rubles. Books are generally very expensive. From my own experience I can say that if a child is studying in a good private school, then preparation for school year costs 1,500-2,000 reals (24,000 - 32,000 rubles) - this is a requirement of the school itself, they give a list of the necessary things. I don’t know the situation in public schools, but I think that it’s almost impossible to spend less than 1000 reals on the normal provision of learning materials. And salaries at some positions can be 500 reals and lower. The availability of education in Brazil is out of the question.

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My colleagues and I try to engage actively in charity. Last Christmas, we took “letters to Santa” from children from low-income families and orphans, we regularly collect food packages. We are planning some lectures from our employees at OAF and other similar schools.

I am glad that this is not some kind of imitation of a frantic activity. This is all voluntary and usually we do not particularly advertise such activities. We simply agree that it helps society and the world move forward, that good breeds good.

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The BeginIT educational project has been implemented in Russia for seven years, but for the second year we have been working at the international level, joining children from 10 different countries of Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia.

To apply for participation in the project, fill out a special form.