The Power of Community

December 23, 2017


The Robbery

Living in a city that spans a huge spectrum of socio-economic realities, robberies are part of reality. It still came as a shock when we discovered Thursday morning early November that our office in Sao Paulo had been broken in and robbed off anything deemed valuable by the thieves. Beyond the material loss, there is something about someone breaking into your house that makes you feel violated and vulnerable. However – we had a full class this evening with an audience of people who had signed up for the public open session. The instructor had come all the way from California to teach transformative leadership skills to our Social Innovation Management Fellows. We looked at each other and knew this was a moment in which we as a team had to pull together and make this day happen regardless. Everyone took care of something – going to the police, cleaning up, preparing the class, examining the loss…

The Reframe

When walking to the police station to report the incident, I felt violated and exposed and angry. But when I was there and hearing much sadder stories of the violence affecting so many families every day it made me get out of my own problems and reconnect with the fact that this is why we do what we do. My feelings of vulnerability turned into strength and unity as I saw our community come together. This was just one more challenge in our journey. Let’s move on to the next now, because we’re READY!” says Julia Melo, Country Manager at Amani Institute Brazil.

By evening nobody noticed the violation as we had managed to make the house feel home again. The projectors were missing but instructor Scott Sherman was a champion and delivered an exceptional class without it. – As someone in the team noticed ‘they didn’t take the books at least’ – what says a lot about what is valued in these days. With mainly tech items gone we looked at a significant financial loss. However, we felt that in a moment of hardship the team had shown up in a beautiful way, – a silver lining on a bleak day.

Amani Alumni stepping up

What moved us more than anything, however, is how the Amani community reacted when they heard about the robbery. – A beautiful testimony to why we focus so much on working with people who are aligned with our core values of empathy, vision, courage, changemaking and a global mindset. And this is the story of how something incredibly beautiful emerged from a dark day:

Amani alumni from various classes started meetings in the house to discuss how to respond to the situation. – Both, in terms of what it means for the wider community, as a robbery in a neighbourhood effects also the people who live in it, as well as how they could support the team in recovering some of the financial losses. A crowd-funding campaign was started and brought to the ‘Day of Giving’ event held at the Amani house in Sao Paulo. Over 70 people contributed – 52 of which were alumni from Brazil and all over the world. One Fellow met Julia by chance at an event and bought right there, out of the blue, a new projector for the house. ‘That’s the least I can do after what you have given me as a Changemaker’ he said.

Working with the Neighbourhood

In the tradition of ‘Oasis Games’ – a methodology for Changemakers to mobilize community – our Fellows then proceeded to engage the community in the Italian ‘Bixiga’ neighbourhood where we are located. They wanted to find out how Amani as a relatively new member of the neighbourhood can work together with the community. ‘We wanted to find opportunities for us to do what Amani prepared us to do – change the reality that we don’t think is right’ explained one of the involved Fellows. 

They visited the children’s home next door and a cultural center in Bixiga and talked to a variety of people living or working in the vicinity. 

In conversation with the leader from the children’s home next door they got excited about their vision for a herb garden for the home – which is now a project the Amani community is working on with them.

A Community of Hope and Change

We know that these kind of incidents are symptomatic for the world we live in. Still – this powerful response by our community is also symptomatic for the world we are building: beyond perceived boundaries and with the vision, courage and empathy to create change in community. We couldn’t think of a more beautiful way to end a year during which the world has shown so many tendencies to create barriers and turn to nationalism when our biggest challenges remain global. It may not always be as visible, but there are countless changemakers in this world who have the courage to change the status quo. – We are honored to serve this growing community and to receive such warm support in return. 

We wish you a wonderful and reflective end of year and our deepest gratitude goes to the community. A special thank you to: Lucas, Kata, Hugo, Daniel, Lina, Bia, Claudia, Debora, Gabriel, Henry, Jaana, Marcelo, Maria Carol, Paula, Sofie, Taina, Fernanda, Vladimir, Renata and all the people who supported the crowdfunding!!! We are so moved by your love, support and change making. 

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