From Angola to Brazil – INÁCIO’s story

05/07/2019 – Originally from Angola, Inácio joined Fight for Peace after starting a new phase of his life in Rio de Janeiro. As well as being part of the tight knit judo family at Fight for Peace, he has also taken advantage of employability and mentoring support offered at the Rio Academy. And his involvement with Fight for Peace has now come full circle with his children and other members of his family also participating in programmes delivered as part of the Five Pillars methodology. This is Inácio’s story:

“I arrived in Brazil at a really good time, there were jobs and education available, even university, as well as various social projects. This made it very different from Angola. There, for example, when you talk about university, it is for those with money. What encouraged me to come to Brazil were other people I knew who had made the trip and who had told me how great it was.

Angolans love Brazil. From a young age we watch Brazilian soap operas and pretend we are the actors! It’s also famous for the football and carnaval. And it’s not just that, Brazil was the first country to recognise Angolan independence in 1975.”

Inácio was born shortly after independence was declared in Angola and lived in the capital Luanda before relocating to Brazil.

“I remember that I started studying very late, I was around 9 years old, because my parents couldn’t afford it. My older sister taught me lots so I was able to progress quickly at school. I studied hard until I was 14 and then I had to drop out of school to begin working.”

It was around this time that Inácio began training in the martial art of judo.

“I started to do judo in my neighbourhood. Everyone there is encouraged to learn combat sports. We didn’t have everything that I have today in terms of equipment. We didn’t have mats for example, we had bags filled with wood chippings that we used to put on the floor to practice on. My first competition in Angola was a judoka who I really admired, I started because of him in fact. I lost of course!

When I first came to Brazil, in my country there was the war going on between political parties. All of the focus was on the war and the government lost control of the administration, of supporting the country to grow and help the population. Here in Brazil people have hope and are able to dream. If you are poor in Angola, you suffer a lot. Healthcare is very precarious. In 2014, my sister was very sick and I brought her to Brazil to get treatment and she recovered. After that my brother ended up coming to live with me in Brazil too. He is at university and he is also part of the Na Ativa employability programme at Fight for Peace.

I can tell you that I owe Brazil a lot. Brazil is like a mother to us – here I was able to study and the people here don’t want to make your life difficult. My wish is to finish my education here, because I had to stop in order to start work. Fight for Peace has helped us a lot, I got to know this place when Prince Charles came to visit the Academy 2009, I hadn’t entered the building up to that point.

I was playing football with some friends on the pitch behind Fight for Peace and I could see a lot of people gathering so I went to see what was going on and discovered the Prince was there visiting Fight for Peace. Then I discovered that Fight for Peace did judo training and I was already looking to get back involved with the sport. I talked to the staff at the Academy and they invited me to start training here and I really liked it. I remember seeing all of the judo players and they all looked really inexperienced! But they were good and I got the better of them some days and they did the same to me on other days!

I got to know more about Fight for Peace. At the start I could only come now and again because of my work but for the last three years I have been coming really regularly. I learned a lot, and not only about judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu. When I started doing the personal development sessions, I started to realise what Fight for Peace was. Fight for Peace has employment support, education programmes, there are loads of opportunities for Fight for Peace members.

My coach Bira has been like a father to me. There is a whole class that has been trained by him since they were small. He is a father figure and a friend. I feel like I train in the best team in the world – it’s not just the coach but also the other athletes, they support me so much. It’s a family, my family in Brazil.”