Things That Matter

Female Indigenous Chief Confirms That Burning The Amazon Is Akin To Genocide, She’s Learning Portuguese To Speak To Brazil’s Leaders

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“Our concern is that if the forest is gone, people will also end,” Ajareaty Waiapi, also known as Nazaré, told her people back in March. Protecting the Amazon rainforest has long been a top priority for environmentalists who understand the Amazon’s ability to store carbon. Nazaré is an indigenous Waiapi chief during a crucial time period under Brazil’s President Bolsonaro, who vowed during his campaign to ensure “there will not be one centimeter more of indigenous land.” He later corrected his statement and said what he actually meant was not one more millimeter.

For the last few weeks, the Amazon rainforest, which is home to much of Brazil’s 900,000 indigenous peoples, has been on fire. 

This tribal leader is on a mission to inform the world that saving her peoples means saving the planet.

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At age 58, Nazaré decided to attend a high school geography class to better understand her peoples’ land and as it relates to the rest of the world. Waiapi elders, including Nazaré, have long predicted that these fires would come–ever since Bolsonaro launched his campaign, which included promises to declassify indigenous lands as protected and open it up to agribusiness.

Brazil has experienced twice as many fires in the last three months as it did during the same time period in 2018.

Credit: Jiachuan Wu / NBC News

Robin Chazdon, an environmental professor at the University of Connecticut, has confirmed that there’s no reason to think environmental conditions like drought has been causing the fires. Environmental groups are pointing to the most significant change in Brazil between 2018 and 2019: Jair Bolsonaro. Once he took office in January, he rolled back environmental regulations that made it easier for cattle ranchers to illegally burn down and level the Amazon for cows to graze, be slaughtered and repackaged to meet the world’s demand for meat.

Bolsonaro has long made hostile remarks about the Indigenous people, saying they “smell, are uneducated and don’t speak our language.”

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Before he was elected president, Bolsonaro had said, “It’s a shame that the Brazilian cavalry wasn’t as efficient as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians.” All throughout his campaign, experts feared for the consequent genocide of indigenous peoples if he would be elected, given his disdain for the peoples and desire for growing agribusiness. 

President Bolsonaro has long resented protected lands for indigenous peoples, once stating that “the recognition of indigenous land is an obstacle to agribusiness.”

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During his campaign, he threatened to shut down FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department. Instead, in June, Bolsonaro elected a federal police officer to reside as the President of FUNAI. The new president, Marcelo Xavier da Silva, once worked on an inquiry that alleged that FUNAI’s interest in protecting indigenous lands was not of the indigenous’ peoples desires, but rather a product of “external interests and ideological objectives.” According to a spokesperson for the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, the new president already “has a long history campaigning and working against indigenous people – he was always in favor of farmers.”

The rise of Bolsonaro has prompted Nazaré to learn Portuguese so she could “talk with the white man out in the meetings.”

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There are very few female chiefs because they are less likely to go to school and learn Portuguese. Chief’s carry the responsibility of protecting their peoples from outside dangers, the largest being the colonizers that have settled the land surrounding them. Learning Portuguese is crucial in protecting their land. Nazaré started attending school at 38 years old. One of her teachers even called her “an old parrot who does not know how to learn.” Nazaré not only learned, but became a Chief because of her determination to ignore the insults.

Today, she’s encouraging all the Waiapi women to go to school in order to protect their people.

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“She always tells me to be chief in the future,” Nazaré’s daughter, Karota Waipapi, says, “to talk to all the relatives, to talk with the young people as well, so that the young people speak what she says.” Nazaré feels an urgency to pass on traditional plant medicine now that Bolsonaro has cut the budget for health care workers in indigenous communities. Back in the 1970’s, when miners illegally deforested much of the Waiapi’s land, it took far too long for the government to respond to a measles outbreak that decimated the population. Only 150 people were left by the time the vaccines came. 

Bolsonaro has rejected $20 million in aid from G7 to fight the fires, citing their aid as “imperialist.”

Credit: @ajplus / Twitter

The Waiapi people have long been in danger from the mere contact with other Brazilians. Today, Brazil’s careless policies that value agribusiness over people may be the end of the Waiapi unless the public steps up to fight Bolsonaro’s policies.

READ: Leonardo DiCaprio Is Helping To Lead The Fight Against The Amazon Forest Fires

An Abuelito Makes Dolls With Vitiligo To Build Self-Esteem In Kids With The Skin Condition And If This Isn’t The Sweetest Thing I Don’t Know What is

Culture

An Abuelito Makes Dolls With Vitiligo To Build Self-Esteem In Kids With The Skin Condition And If This Isn’t The Sweetest Thing I Don’t Know What is

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Brazilian grandfather João Stanganelli learned to crochet with one goal in mind: to uplift the self-esteem of children with vitiligo. Stanganelli began to show signs of the skin condition when he was 38. Vitiligo causes the loss of skin color in blotches and can affect any part of the body. 

“Vitiligo occurs when the cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning. Vitiligo affects people of all skin types, but it may be more noticeable in people with darker skin. The condition is not life-threatening or contagious. It can be stressful or make you feel bad about yourself,” according to the Mayo Clinic. 

While some of the possible symptoms listed are sunburn, susceptibility to skin cancer, eye problems, and hearing loss, professionals also note that one of the most difficult issues is a social stigma which can lead to low self-esteem or other psychological issues. 

Fortunately, abuelo João Stanganelli is out here putting smiles on children’s faces and reminding them that they look absolutely perfect. 

A new beginning

Stanganelli began to show signs of vitiligo when he was 38. However, it wasn’t until last year, at 64, that he began this amazing project. After losing his job in the gastronomy industry due to a heart condition, Stanganelli wanted to keep busy while he was at home. He and his wife Marilena took up crocheting together. At first, it proved to be difficult, causing him to develop calluses on his fingers. But after five days of practice, Stanganelli crocheted his first doll. 

A tiny idea becomes a big one

While he only intended to create something to pass onto his granddaughter, things quickly snowballed.

“I decided to make the doll for my granddaughter, and wanted something that she would remember about her grandfather,” he told Romper.

Stanganelli decided to crochet her a doll that looked like him, one with two skin tones. However, photos of his adorable doll began to circulate – people wanted in. 

A new way to honor children’s differences

Parents of children with vitiligo wanted a doll for their little ones, but they weren’t the only group that wanted to be seen. Others began to request dolls with a wheelchair, hearing aids, blindness, alopecia, and other differences. They wanted their children to see themselves, and it’s not like there were many options on the market. 

It may not seem like a big deal to you, but just take a look at one of the comments on this doll with a wheelchair, “This is so beautiful it just made me cry. My Jenna has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. You truly are so awesome for all you do sir. May God bless you over and over.” 

“These are beautiful. I’ve had vitiligo since my mid-40s. My face, chest, back, neck and some on my arms. It is a, “how did this happen” disease. These are a beautiful way for ppl to converse abt this so others understand. God bless you Joao,” another person wrote.

Difference is beauty

“The spots I have are beautiful. What hurts me are the flaws in peoples’ characters,” Stanganelli told CTV News. Kids and parents have told him that the dolls are “helping with their self-esteem.” Just more proof that representation matters, especially to those most vulnerable. 

It’s no secret that kids can be particularly cruel about differences, Stanganelli is providing children with an honorable service — a little taste of what it feels like to be represented just like anybody else. Sometimes the ordinary can you make feel extraordinary. 

“Vitiligo can be life-altering… Some people develop low self-esteem. They may no longer want to hang out with friends. They can develop serious depression. Most people have vitiligo for life, so it’s important to develop coping strategies,” according to the American Academy of Dermatology. 

Redefining beauty

Stanganelli’s dolls come at a time where people with vitiligo are embracing their unique aesthetic rather than covering it up. The Brazilian children’s book Menina Feita de Nuvens, or “the girl made of clouds,” tells the story of a little girl with a superpower: vitiligo. 

Models like Winnie Harlow, Breanne Rice, and Ash Soto have brought vitiligo to the mainstream of fashion. 

“Female models with vitiligo now appear regularly on designer runways and in advertising campaigns, empowering those who once hid behind the makeup to use these tools to enhance their individuality. Women with vitiligo who span the spectrum, including White models with vitiligo and Black models with vitiligo, are expanding the public’s definition of what it means to be attractive,” writes Anna Papachristos for APlus

If you would like to purchase a custom crocheted doll, please reach out to Stanganelli and his wife on Facebook

The Violence Against Women In Brazil Is Escalating And A New Study Shows That Girls Under 13 Are Being Targeted

Things That Matter

The Violence Against Women In Brazil Is Escalating And A New Study Shows That Girls Under 13 Are Being Targeted

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A troubling study is highlighting the horrible state of women’s safety in Brazil. This time, a non-governmental organization found that girls under the age of 13 are facing a horrific trend of rapes within the South American country. Here is what the study by the Brazilian Forum of Public Security found.

A new study shows that four girls under 13 are raped every hour in Brazil.

Credit: Saulo Cruz / Flickr

The study also found that police receive a call every two minutes to report a violent attack against a woman. The study shows a very troubling side of one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

“Brazil is still one of the most dangerous places in the world for women,” Valeria Scarance, a public prosecutor, told Brazilian newspaper Globo’s Jornal Nacional. “And the most dangerous place for a woman is her own home.”

To make matters worse, the Brazilian government has been stripping away crucial places of safety for women. According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in 2017, the Brazilian government closed 23 shelters for victims fo domestic violence citing budget cuts as the reason. The following year, Jair Bolsonaro was elected as president and it sparked fear and outrage throughout the country. At the start of 2018, the HRC also found that 1.2 million domestic violence cases were pending before courts throughout the country.

The violence against women in Brazil has been at the forefront of Brazilian protests for years, even before the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

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In the lead up to one of the largest sporting event in the world, Brazilians protested to warn potential tourists of the crimes being committed. The famous Copacabana Beach was filled with panties and images of women who have been sexually assaulted in Brazil.

Brazilians highlighted the death of a 17-year-old girl at the hands of a group of men to warn tourists of the dangers of being in the country.

The election of Jair Bolsonaro reignited the efforts of protesters across the country to bring attention to the violence women face every day in Brazil.

Bolsonaro, like President Trump, energized the far-right of Brazil. Minority groups, women, and the indigenous defenders tried to warn the nation against electing Bolsonaro are the president of Brazil to no avail. Since taking office, Bolsonaro has attacked women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, indigenous rights, environmental rights, and anything you can really think of.

In one display of troubling rhetoric, Bolsonaro told a congresswoman that she was not worthy of being raped. He made the statement on Brazil’s TV Globo and stated he wasn’t worth rape because she was too ugly, sparking outrage.

As the world deals with injustices at the hands of apathetic governments, Brazilians are trying to fight to save women.

Credit: @Prynces11 / Twitter

The violence against women is startling in Brazil. Only time will tell if Brazilians will be able to put enough pressure on the nation’s leaders to exact the change they want to see for women’s rights.

READ: Indigenous Women Of Brazil Are Refusing To Keep Quiet Over The Country’s President’s Policies