Brazilian travels through the countryside distributing books to children | education

“Education saved my life”, says social entrepreneur and backpacker Thiago Silva, 33, when defining his relationship with books.

Negro, the son of a single mother and a resident of Junqueiro, in the state of Alagoas, he says he felt like he was invisible.

“I had some social characteristics of someone who was not going to win in life. I came from a difficult situation”, he tells BBC News Brasil.

Even though his life was transformed by books, the Alagoan man points out that he never really liked reading and had difficulty falling in love with pedagogical content.

During elementary school, his teacher “punished” him to be a library monitor and that’s when he started reading his first work. Since then, he hasn’t stopped.

After graduating in Human Resources Management, he studied Psychopedagogy as a specialization and passed a Postal Service contest to work as a postman. However, the profession was not what he liked the most, and his desire to help children through reading spoke even louder.

While working, I tried to work overtime to get time off and be able to travel around Brazil. His intention was to “backpack” through the Northeast, but in a different way.

“I arranged with my boss, and he understood my purpose a little. I thought I could start traveling around Brazil distributing books to children and adolescents. “, highlights.

In 2013, volunteer work began in Alagoas, where he lives, and continued to the neighboring states of Sergipe, Bahia and Pernambuco. Because of travel and distribution, he earned the name “backpacker for education”.

Reading workshop for children in Massagueira, Marechal Deodoro (AL) — Photo: DIVULGAÇÃO

As he had financial stability and accumulated days off, Thiago was able to travel on certain days, and began to put his plan into practice.

To see who could help, I contacted schools, NGOs and looked for cities that had a low human development index (HDI). “I started knocking on the doors of schools, sending emails, entering through social networks and making contact”, she says.

The aim was to promote social transformation through literature and provide access to books for children and adolescents in situations of vulnerability. However, getting books and material for the donations was laborious.

He would go after book fairs and try to get as many books as possible. Often, when he received the donated books, they were old materials of little use. “We received a lot of bad books, moldy books, and it was garbage. People wanted to get rid of books”, he says.

When he didn’t receive it for free, he bought some publications out of his own pocket. Today, to avoid any type of material in a bad condition, he makes a questionnaire to identify the quality of the material that will be received. “Those who donate begin to realize that they have a management behind them.”

“Children in the interior of the country have a geographical limitation of access to books”, says Thiago Silva — Photo: DIVULGAÇÃO

Action works three pillars

Even working in the social area, he did not and does not want to transform the project into an NGO. The backpacker says that he prefers to have the flexibility to create and be able to go to places in a practical way. “I think I would keep that money in plaster. I like to create and be free. It’s the backpacker profile”, he says.

To help sort the books and develop the company, he counts people in the administrative area and a pedagogue to curate the books received.

In addition to distributing books, during school visits, he offers mentoring programs to students. ”They create projects to present to evaluation boards”, says Thiago.

In the framework “Good ideas have no age”, children and adolescents can develop ideas and projects for innovation in different areas of social impact.

The backpacker also holds reading workshops for the needy public in the cities. In some places, a literary shelf that simulates a mobile library with more than 200 books, a tablet to manage the rental of works and coloring materials has already been delivered.

Today, to get resources and develop the project on a large scale, he goes after companies and sells lectures. The idea is to have each company “adopt” a public school and transfer a financial sum to the places visited.

Since 2013, Thiago has visited 79 cities, 10 states and distributed 10,650 books. His most recent trip was to São José do Egypt and Tabira, both in Pernambuco.

Thiago Silva donating books in the village of Olhos d’água, in Atalaia (AL) — Photo: DIVULGAÇÃO

As the focus is to travel to less favored places and the northeast, Thiago says he is surprised every time he helps a child or hears an impactful story.

Once, in the city of Irecê, in Bahia, he met a girl who set up a “little house” of books and distributed each one of them in public squares. The attitude caught the attention of the social entrepreneur, since the project was carried out by a child of only ten years old. “She has a leadership profile and had this vision of not keeping it to herself”, he highlights.

The young woman, now 13 years old, has set up 20 literary houses in three Brazilian states (Bahia, Pará and Ceará) and manages to manage “guardians” to clean the place and supervise the books. The idea is to always take one book and leave another.

On another occasion, in the backlands of Pajeú (Pernambuco), he heard from a girl who never thought that a person like him would visit her school.

Thiago Silva gives a lecture at a public school in Arapiraca (AL) — Photo: DIVULGAÇÃO

In addition to carrying out social impact projects, Thiago takes the title of backpacker seriously. On his YouTube channel, he always shows curious stories and tourist attractions from the cities he visits.

“I like to show the curiosity of a building, the city, a house”, he says. And whenever he arrives in a city, he goes after stories and asks: “What is the land of here?”.

It also features characters and people who stand out in a particular region. “I live the experience and that’s what education is. Inserting a new instrument, but not neglecting the culture. You don’t break that link between people and the region”, he says.

Thiago distributes books at a day care center on the outskirts of Maceió — Photo: DIVULGAÇÃO

The next step is to distribute books to schools and NGOs in the North and Midwest regions.

He still wants to train and train new backpackers to carry out a job like his and bring access to books to several cities in Brazil. At the same time, he intends to create a kind of portal for young people to find their first job and have access to career acceleration programs.

Finally, it intends to have a fixed headquarters and a school with its own methodology. “I want to make the country the most read country in the world.”

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