Baha'i-inspired NGO receives grant for vocational training in the Amazon

16 November 2001

As part of a government program to reduce unemployment, a Baha'i-inspired development organization in the Amazon basin has received a major grant from the Brazilian Ministry of Education to expand its vocational education program here, with the goal of offering courses to more than 4,000 students per year by 2006.

The grant, equivalent to some US$850,000, will allow the Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazonia (ADCAM) [Association for the Cohesive Development of Amazon] to build and equip a three-story technical education building on its 12-acre property in the Sao Jose suburb of Manaus. Construction is scheduled to begin in December, leading to completion of the building in July 2002.

"This is a major expansion of vocational training opportunities in the region, which is greatly needed because of the high level of unemployment in the Amazon basin, especially among young people," said Ferial Sami Farzin, general director of ADCAM. "Our goal is to strive to improve the quality of life and release the potential of the rural population so that they become leaders in the vanguard in support of their own development."

Under the terms of the grant contract, 50 percent of the money will be used for construction and the other 50 percent will be used to fit the building with equipment -- such as computers, chairs, tables, instruments, and blackboards. ADCAM will shoulder all operating costs, relying on tuition fees and voluntary contributions for its funding. Under the terms of the contract, as well, at least 50 percent of the students will receive full scholarships.

The new building will be known as the Masrour Technology Institute. Current plans call for the building to include the following laboratories: design, computer, air- conditioning, language, music, ceramic, textile, chemical, environmental, electronic, and esthetic. The building will have a total floor space of 2,800 square meters.

Initially, courses will be offered in business management, social development facilitation, and environmental technology. By 2003, courses in design, nutrition and air conditioning technology will be added, as the teaching staff is expanded. A number of shorter, basic-level modular courses, in similar subjects, will also be offered.

By offering courses in the morning, afternoon and evening, the Institute hopes to make maximum use of the facility, offering as many sessions as possible. By 2006, the Institute expects to have a full complement of staff, with the capacity to serve approximately 640 students per year in the main subjects, and another 4,350 per year in the shorter, basic-level courses.

"ADCAM serves disadvantaged people who, for the most part, would be without any aid, education or social services if this development project did not exist," said Ms. Farzin. "It is located in the midst of one of the poorest neighborhoods in Manaus, serving people who would have no other opportunity to develop their innate capacities if this project wasn't placed in this region."

Established 16 year ago, ADCAM's first project was an orphanage. With a mandate to operate following Baha'i principles, ADCAM soon added other programs focused on helping the young people of Manaus. Currently, ADCAM operates three major programs: an elementary school, a youth leadership project, and a supervised youth service project. These programs currently serve more than 700 youth.

"In all of our programs, the overriding goal is to balance material instruction with individual spiritual and moral education in order to help the people of the Amazon develop their innate capacities and become self-sustaining in their social and economic development," said Ms. Farzin. "We strive to fit these programs into a context of the needs of the region, based on our long experience with other organizations here, while at the same time following Baha'i principles in our operation and activities."

The grant contract was signed at a ceremony on 21 September 2001 at the seat of the Ministry of Education in Brasilia. Present were various federal and state authorities, including Brazil's Minister of Education, Professor Paulo Renato.

ADCAM was represented by Ms. Farzin and invited guests Carlos Alberto Silva, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Brazil, and Guitty Milani, representing the Masrour Association, a donor for the project in Manaus.

Ms. Farzin added that the Institute will expand its staff considerably in the next few years and she said she hoped that Baha'is around the world with appropriate backgrounds will apply to offer service at the Institute.

More information on ADCAM is available at http://www.bahai.org/article-1-8-1-24.html.

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