Recycling for life – Centro Marista de Inclusão Digital: An Innovative Project from Brazil

The Centro Marista de Inclusão Digital (CMID)

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is based in Santa Marta and supported by the Colegio Marista. Nova Santa Marta is one of 40 barrios in Santa Maria, RS Brazil and most of its inhabitants live below the poverty line. the CMID is an innovative initiative that ‘recycles’ old electronic and computer material and involves children and adolescents in a range of activities, including the refurbishment of computers, digital art, design of robotic equipment and even assistive technologies (e.g. electric wheelchairs).

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The Centre offers instruction in how to reuse materials, engineering, software design and information retrieval and sharing. Pupils learn individually and in teams how to design and use IT products. They acquire skills that are highly sought after in the labour market and they receive certificates of attendance for classes. What they develop does not only work well, it is significantly cheaper than any commercially refurbished product. This in turn benefits those who have limited means and would otherwise never be able to afford computer equipment or certain assistive technologies. The staff at the Centre are supportive, highly engaged and creative. Their initiative pays off in terms of advanced skills in the young generation.

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Reflections on a human tragedy

I am holding in my hand two plastic blossoms with the names of two young men I never had a chance to meet This is the last day of a nursing conference in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. On 27th January this year a devastating fire broke out in the night club Kiss and claimed the lives of over 242 young people and has deeply affected everyone in this town of 270,000.  The colourful blossom in my hand, the hand of an outsider who was invited to partake in the celebration of a life that ended before it could blossom.

This is a city in mourning, everyone is touched by s tragedy that was unforeseeable, sudden, transformative.

It catapulted Santa Maria onto the international evening news around the globe. For all the lives lost, many more have been shattered for ever. Another young person died in Porto Alegre this morning.

A doctor I spoke to said that treating the respiratory effects of smoke inhalation is only one terrible part of the story. The emotional trauma, the anxiety of the young patients who come to see him regularly; the fear to be in a room where the windows are closed is unimaginable. 

Everybody who worked on that fateful night, gave more than they thought was ever possible. Casualties kept pouring into the hospitals, some at a distance of more that 20 kilometres from the city centre. Makeshift beds in the corridors, emergency services, nurses, doctors, ordinary people were joined together. The most fundamental resource that night was the human being. Months after the event, I got a glimpse of this amazing resource in the form of the nurses, the doctors, the students in Santa Maria. Equipment may fail or may not be ready to use but the imagination, creativity resourcefulness of these people will not. They command the most powerful resource there is: love and care.

They hug a lot in Brazil. Perhaps, even more since that fateful night in January in Santa Maria. The comfort that is sought and found in the touch and embrace of another human being does not compare.

So, I attach the plastic flower bearing the name of Joao and David to the tree, think about them, not about their deaths but about how their short lives have touched so many others and how they now travel in my thoughts and heart to places they did not get a chance to see. 

The people I met in Santa Maria carry their hearts on their faces. They may look at you with a laughing and a sad eye, with a spectrum of emotions like the colours of a rainbow in Scotland. But in the end, it is the smile that will find your heart and warm you. 

Personal Reflections from Brazil

I had the great pleasure to travel to Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil in the last week to attend an International Conference and to meet many individuals on this short visit. I have decided to report about some of these experiences on the SDHI site as they reflect what I have learned about the varied social dimensions of health, wellbeing and participation. 

- Thilo Kroll

Congratulations

Congratulations to Professor Mary Wells who has been affiliated with SDHI for several years. Mary has been appointed Professor of Cancer Nursing Research & Practice at the Nursing Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU) at the University of Stirling. She will work closely with former SDHI director and now NMAHP RU director, Professor Brian Williams. We wish Mary all the best in her new post and look forward to new collaborative opportunities.

We also like to congratulate Professor Graeme Hutton on his recent promotion. Graeme is an award winning architect and has been a Reader at the University of Dundee before being awarded a Personal Chair this week. He is Associate Dean and Head of Architecture and Planning at the University of Dundee. Graeme is co-organising with SDHI and the Geddes Institute for Urban Research a symposium on the 27th June, entitled ‘CARE SPACE: Future Designs for Wellbeing’.

Further congratulations go to Dr Caroline Bradbury-Jones who has been promoted to Senior Lecturer and will shortly be taking up a new position at the University of Manchester, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work.

Participation and Engagement in Research: challenges and opportunities

The School of Nursing & Midwifery’s ‘Addressing Inequalities Research Theme’ is hosting a 2 hour discussion event on the challenges and opportunities for participation and engagement in research.

Invited speakers Dr Terry Barber (School of Education, Social Work and Community Education) and Dr Bridget Johnston (School of Nursing & Midwifery) will be sharing their experiences and exploring ideas around the subject.

This is the first of a series of cross-university activities organised be the team that aim to contribute to the debate about research into inequalities.

The activity is open to all.

When: 15th May, 3-5pm

Where: Dalhousie 2F11

Contact: Dr Fernando Fernandes – f.l.fernandes@dundee.ac.uk