The community of Vidigal is a favela (Portuguese for shanty town) located in the south of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Despite being nestled between two of the cities most affluent neighbourhoods, the cruel reality for the residents of Vidigal is one of poverty. The negative connotations associated with living in a favela means that many struggle with social exclusion and a lack of opportunities. In 2003, Antonio de Aleluia opened the professional training centre Alzira de Aleluia in Vidigal. Born and raised in the community, Antonio fought to overcome prejudices and lack of opportunities to become a doctor of Engineering and University Professor, largely thanks to the support and guidance he received from his grandmother, Alzira de Aleluia. Recognising that the community continued to struggle with a lack of opportunities and conscious of the important role that education played in his success Antonio chose to convert his old family home into the professional training centre Alzira de Aleluia with the aim to promote education, citizenship and the development of individuals living in the community. All the activities offered by the organisation are free of charge and include modern languages, mathematics, Portuguese, geography, football, volleyball and ballet, as well as psychological counselling sessions and family support groups. As well as these regular activities, it also offers training courses whose objective is to provide professional training to enable residents to enter the employment market. Recent courses include hairdressing, caring for the elderly and English for tourism and hospitality purposes.
Currently the centre depends entirely on donations and the help of volunteers.
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