Fellow Since 2006
Cufa - Central Única das Favelas
This profile was prepared when Celso Athayde was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
Celso believes that the lack of empathy and understanding from outsiders remains a big obstacle to long-term improvement of life in the favelas. He has created a youth-led audiovisual production program to employ young people and show them an income outside the growing illegal drug market. In his Unique Favela Center (CUFA), young people produce movies and music to communicate the realities of favela life to the rest of Brazil. Books and movies created by the community are disseminated nationally as part of a campaign to help all Brazilians understand what life is like in the favelas. Through this audiovisual art, young people gain a sense of social responsibility and learn about the creation and implementation of public policies. CUFA’s programs provide young people with an opportunity to contextualize their experience in the larger culture, to discuss favela life, and to brainstorm strategies to overcome the obstacles they face. Celso has created mechanisms for communication with the government to integrate these strategies into public policy.