Kurt Shaw began his career counseling street kids in New York and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and went on to form Shine a Light, a nonprofit working with homeless youth in Latin America. With a master’s degree from Harvard, he has been published in English, Portuguese, and Spanish.
This year, the Harvard educated Shaw launched FavelaNews: an internet news channel produced by teenagers from Brazil’s favelas.
“For years, kids have felt that the only way that they will be recognized is by doing bad things: that's what makes the state and the media look at them,” Shaw says. “With FavelaNews.org, they can feel recognized and respected for the good things they do in their community: sports, music, dance, teaching little kids, and more.”
Another project to clean up the canals in these communities is also underway, and will culminate in Congress of the Canal, a concert and peace summit. Although, Shaw says, the communities where FavelaNews works are some of the most violent in the world, people in the neighborhood talk firstly about the problem of sewage and trash. The toilets of the north of Recife flush directly into a canal that runs right by homes in the communities, and two feet of trash cover the canal. In addition to the stench, dysentery, and other diseases caused by the canal, it’s also a breeding ground for mosquitoes, making the area a hotspot for dengue, a dangerous infectious disease, in Brazil.
“This year, the FavelaNews reporters will be developing an intense strategy for cleaning up the canal, bringing together direct action, news stories, and protests designed to shame the city into doing its job,” Shaw says.
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