Friday, August 06, 2004

Getting the message

Last night I attended the first anniversary meeting of Dialogo Brasil, the consultative group set up by the Brazilian embassy here in London to liaisewith the Brazilian community. I go to these things so you don't have to.

Anyway, details, details. Chances are most people will not be aware of an event taking place on 22 August in regents Park. It's been organised by a number of groups, but appears to have the bilingual magazine, Jungle Drums at the forefront. It's called Peladao and will be a free event at which football will be played (the 18 teams are now completed), music will take to the stage (including Tukriatu, Banda Pororocas, Trio Azevedo and Ritmos da Samba), along with DJs Marcio Custodio, Fernando Dias and the Sambatralia crew between sets. There will be barracos (stalls) selling Brazilian goods and food (the acai will be worth the visit alone, I assure you) and information from various charities and organisations working with the community and in the Latin American region.

From what I could gather the event is not being advertised beyond the Brazilian press in London, since the focus is on getting Brazilians together. But I'm sure some of us Anglo-Brazilians and their friends will be more than welcome.

Which brings me to the other topic of discussion last night. How do we reach out to the Brazilian community? It's an ongoing discussion, not least in making available to them information about availability of public services. In June a seminar was held which addressed issues of immigration and social services and recently the embassy has published a document detailing what the consulate can and can't do for Brazilian resident in the UK.

But still there's more that can be done. One speaker pointed out that many Brazilians in the UK were here as economic migrants only to work and send money home. Chances are they have very little contact with official Brazilian representation in this country, especially if they are here illegally. And the usual channels of publicising this work and information at events can be tricky, especially if you have to pay to get in. If they are sending money home such migrants may be less likely to attend them; they're probably unlikely to go out very much. Another speaker spoke of the frustration of getting the evangelical churches to take up the matter, by announcing it during sermons; she found the pastors were claiming these were political matters which have no place in church.

We need to find different ways of getting the message across and beyond the traditional means of the local Brazilian press and haunts, like the Cafe do Luis. Maybe events like the Peladao will help, but other, creative solutions are also needed.

Answers on a postcard please.

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