I had the great privilege to work by Gregory's side for one and a half decade. He taught and inspired me a lot. That puts a lot of responsibility on the team and me to continue the outstanding work he started.

Ivone Silva is the new Managing Director of the Hummingbird Project in Brazil (Kolibri Brazil). CARF´s marketing  director, Peter Munck, has  interviewed her: 

You have worked for Kolibri Brazil for 15 years. Tell us a little about your experience.

I joined Kolibri Brazil as it went through a reorientation of it working methodology. Before it used to operate more traditionally, using professionals in the field of social assistance. The change Gregory undertook at the time was to put local youths to be responsible for the implementation of the educational projects and activities. One of the main goals of the new approach was to make these young leaders positive models for the children and youth in the areas where we operated.

We gradually developed and improved this methodology. We succeeded quite well and, as we got more funding from Norway, we managed to substantially increase the number of kids in our programs that went from 600 to over 2.000. At the same time, we increased the number of ”community centers” from one to four, each with its unique educational and pedagogical offering.

What is Kolibri Brazil´s role in the Diadema´s local community? 

Before answering this question, we need to understand the context in which we work in. Just a few years ago, Diadema was one of the most violent cities in the country. It peaked several negative national indices such as violence, drug abuse, low education levels, etc. Some neighborhoods did not have access to sewage and electricity, landslides often occurred with fatal consequences and, most importantly, people lived in precarious and unsafe dwellings.

In spite of the positive changes in the last 15 years, Diadema still has very serious socioeconomic problems compared with neighboring municipalities. Moreover, Kolibri Brazil is located in the most difficult and poor neighborhood. Over half of the young people in Diadema live nearby our centers. All of this creates huge social demands.

The role of Kolibri Brazil is to promote changes that stimulate our children youngsters to become aware that there are other realities than those they live under and this way help them to break out of the negative predicament they find themselves in. Through their participation in artistic, cultural and sporting activities, we encourage them to develop a more structured, reflective and proactive behavioral mode. This way they change their world view, how they see themselves, and therefore be in a better position to spot the opportunities that are open to them. In other words, get out of the vicious and tragic trap they would otherwise find themselves in.

The next step is to help them identify the right paths to take to achieve their dreams and ambitions.

The outcome of our work is to take part in this development phase of the underprivileged youngsters. That is our role in Diadema.

Will there be changes in how Kolibri Brazil works?

We will make some change, but I rather call them improvements or continuations of exiting projects. It will be like the second stage of a larger project. This also shows the maturity of our team due to the extensive experiences we have acquired over 25 years of successful social activities. These changes are in line with the changing demands of our target groups. As I mentioned earlier, I aim to support our young people with work experiences in fields that can offer professional development. This is not easy as there is still resistance is many businesses to take in young people from the poor, peripheral districts.

As part of this aim we will work to develop a network of partners, companies and social institutions that may receive the youngsters for a limited period and make the kids take part in a pre-established training program. We already have some positive experience in this and wish to expand the program to make it an integral part of the support services we can provide to the local, underprivileged youngsters

Another focus of attention is to improve the organization´s performance though investments in training of our personnel.  The aim is to raise our professional qualification, increase motivation and develop career plans for our employees.   

What are the challenges Kolibri Brazil faces in the future?

We are presently concentrating on what we call a technical/managerial immersion where we evaluate in detail all the sectors, processes and results. This will lead to plan that will be executed in phases. At the same time, the organization is suffering from the effects of an extended period of recession and it has to, jointly with CARF, find ways and means to increase income. 

Ivone Silva and Einar Kongsbakk (Leader of the Board - CARF)
Ivone Silva and Einar Kongsbakk (Leader of the Board - CARF)

Will the relationship with CARF change?

We at Kolibri Brazil want to strengthen the collaboration with CARF in areas such as marketing and long-term planning. In other words, the aim is to look for and expand the synergies betwen CARF and Kolibri Brazil. 

Any additional comments you would like to make?

Yes, I do. First of all, I would to express my deepest gratitude to Gregory John Smith. Hadn´t it been for his creative geniality and philanthropic work by dedicating his life to help needy children, then neither Kolibri Brazil nor Kolibri CARF would have existed. I had the great privilege to work by his side for one and a half decade. He taught and inspired me a lot. That puts a lot of responsibility on the team and me to continue the outstanding work he started. We´ll do our best to succeed in this endeavor and bring hope to the needy children and youngsters in Brazil.

Facts about Ivone Silva:

Ivone is 38 years old, from Pernambuco in northeast Brazil, and has a bachelor's degree in Portuguese and also done research on the cultural expressions of people in Brazil from African and indigenous origins. She worked a few years in the culture section of Diadema Municipality of Diadema before joining Kolibri Brazil as a volunteer 15 years ago. One year later she was invited by the network's founder, Gregory John Smith, to be RCBF´s first coordinator of cultural, artistic and sports activities and programs

We congratulate and wish her good luck.

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