Our second partner visit in Brazil was in Manaus, the largest city in the province of Amazon. After driving through the poorer regions of the city, we came toÂ ADCAM, a multi-faceted school with apprenticeship, college, high school and youth programs. When we arrived, we couldnâ€™t believe how beautiful the campus looked compared with the rest of Manaus. There were well kept gardens, acres of land, and happy students walking through the halls. This was clearly a special place in the city and we were about to find out why.
We first spent some time with students from the vocational program. They were between the ages of 14-17 and were part of an electronics repair program. Since there are a lot of electronics factories in Manaus, the demand for skilled repair workers is high and pays well. These students are very busy, spending 4 hours a week in an placed internship (generally at one of the local factories), attend ADCAM one day a week, and go to Â regular school as well. The program opens the childrenâ€™s eyes to their potential, and many end up using the money they save from their internships to go to college.
What impressed me most about ADCAM was both the passion of its director, as well as the way it has grown and developed around the needs of the Manaus community. Their director was an Iranian woman who had immigrated to Manaus over 25 years ago. She didnâ€™t speak any Portguese at the time, was pregnant and yet had a goal of opening a small daycare. She overcame hurdle after hurdle to grow the daycare into a school, and then an apprenticeship program, and finally a college. Now, over 5,000 students attend the school every year. If you ask their founder how she made this possible, she references her belief in love, faith and God.
It will be fascinating to see where ADCAM will be in 5 years. As the Olympics and World Cup approach, there will be a boom in tourism and hospitality. In the past, ADCAM has grown to fit the needs of its community, and I anticipate that this will be no exception. The biggest potential investment here would be in the teaching of English. Another area that ADCAM will need to explore will be the environment. Finding a fine balance between preserving the nation’s rainforests and expanding will be key.
To help support this amazing school, Jolkona is soon to be partnering with the Mona Foundation, a Seattle based non-profit. Â The Mona foundation funds vocational and primary school scholarships for ADCAM. Please support ADCAM here.