Author Diane Pereira Sousa
“Baixada Maranhense” is a region to the north of the State of Maranhão. It is an important territory for the State’s development structures.
Anyone who is born or who lives in this region is called a “Baixadeiro”. This form of identification started in 2003, with the movement known as “CIP Young Citizen”, an integrated series of development projects promoted by “Formacao – Centro de Apoio à Educação Básica” in 10 cities (Arari, Cajari, Penalva, Matinha, Olinda Nova, São João Batista, São Vicente Ferrer, São Bento, Palmeirândia, Peri Mirim).
The Baixada Maranhense Community Foundation was born out of the “CIP Young Citizen” movement.
After 10 years of intense work in the region, a group of baixadeiros got together to discuss what the region’s next years would look like. At the time, there was an understanding that we cannot backtrack, we must keep brightening the daily lives of “Baixada Maranhense” with art, sports, communication, agricultural ecology, supporting ideas and projects, broadening access, building social justice.
One of the Community Foundation’s first strategies was to create a campaign called ‘Anyone who loves the Baixada is an Ambaixadeiro’. That is, anyone who supports the development of the region should be considered an Ambaixadeiro. AMBAIXADEIRO was a Baixadeiro Ambassador. Two forms of contribution to the territory were proposed. The first, Volunteer Ambaixadeiro, were people who could support it by volunteering their skills, such as, a marketing specialist, a legal advisor, a teacher. The second, Donor Ambaixadeiro, were the people who could support it financially, by donating a certain amount.
In 2022, with the support of the Philanthropy Network for Social Justice, we are changing that strategy into a methodology. Now, a new element has been added to the Ambaixadeiro project: the “Productive Baixada”. It allows us to map out people who have promising ideas, projects and businesses, and connect them to the Donor Ambaixadeiro and the Volunteer Ambaixadeiro. For the territory to advance, it is crucial to invest in people.
Today, “Baixada Maranhense” is filled with Baixadeiro Ambassadors, like Jailson Mendes in São João Batista, Francilda Fonseca in São Vicente de Ferrer, Samara Volpony in Arari, Roselia Oliveira in São Bento.
Regina Cabral and I like to say that when we think about Community Philanthropy, we think of a river and everything that moves around it.
People fish, cultivate, sail. Anyone who lives near the River knows what has to be done for the fishing, cultivation and sailing to be productive.
Community Philanthropy happens when the canoe that is being used ceases to be enough, so we must start thinking about several other canoes, which contribute to sustainability and a good life. With several canoes, more people, with all kinds of profiles and different dreams, can fish, so that others can be fed. Canoes working together are better than boats with just one captain. They produce scale income and inclusive development.
The community knows what has to be done, there are creativity, strategies and connection in the daily lives of its people, but to cross the river with more people you need the connected canoes of philanthropy.
I like to think of the sea as well. The sea that connects all continents. The sea reaches the river and the river runs into the sea. The sea represents the major funds. The river contains the community funds. Part of river comes from the sea. When I put my feet in the ocean, I feel connected to the people who step into the same water, far, far away. And the beauty of it: the other person and I join forces to assist the canoes on the rivers.
Diane Pereira Sousa Diane Pereira Sousa was born in the State of Maranhão, in the “Baixada” area of the State. Bachelor of Laws. Master of Human Rights, Interculturalism and Development. Teacher. Legal Consultant. Ashoka Fellow. UOL- ECOA Curator 2021. President of the Baixada Community Foundation. Managing Partner of Instituto Formação. One of her social technologies was nominated by Hundred to compete as one of the top 100 in the world. She studies and researches daily routines, alternative education models, and youth. She is a partner in Football Learning Global (FLG), a network that connects young people, schools and organizations from 10 countries on 5 continents. One of her specialties at Brazilian and international events are “poetic bridges” (mediations) merging dreams and reality.
She coordinated the book Can You Hear My Voice?” She wrote and coordinated the handbook “Human Rights and Student Movements”, by Flacso. She co-authored the book “About Our Grandmothers – memory, resistance and ancestry”. She wrote and coordinated the Educational Sports guides for social development and citizenship. She wrote and coordinated the Football 3 system for children. She wrote and coordinated the book Football 3 – Historical use of the methodology in Brazil