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Brazil: Million dollar students

This film was shot and narrated by students Raquel Rodrigues Ferreira (20) and Raíssa Sampaio Santos (18), from Brasilia.

Raquel and Raíssa’s school is more than 30 years old, and with no upkeep, is falling apart. When the roof fell in on a teacher’s head during class, it was the final straw. 

Armed with newfound knowledge about budgets and political lobbying, after training from our partner INESC, the girls went along to a public budget meeting, took the microphone and argued their case.

As a direct result, the city council’s annual budget now includes an extra million dollars for maintenance work in all the city schools. 'We knew that we had rights that were explained on paper, but before INESC came to our school, we didn’t know how to claim them,' Raquel explains.

Raquel lives in a slum neighbourhood on the outskirts of Brasilia, bordering the local rubbish dump. Her parents support the family by collecting rubbish from the tip and selling it on for recycling.

As the daughter of poor, illiterate rubbish collectors, Raquel is exactly the kind of person whose voice usually goes unheard by those in power. Not any more.


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