Inaugural Women of Maré Run staged in support of female autonomy

23/05/2018 – On the morning of Saturday 12th May, women from Maré filled the streets of our community at the 1st Women of Maré Run. More than one hundred women filled this public space and showed that a woman’s place is where she chooses.

Running together through five of the sixteen favelas which make up the Complexo da Maré, participating athletes completed the three kilometre course which began at the House of the Women of Maré (a centre built and run by Fight for Peace partner Redes da Maré) and ended at the Fight for Peace Academy. “Many women got to know about the House of the Women of Maré and the work of Fight for Peace through our run. We are very happy, because this was one of the main objectives of the event”, said Nathalia Cardoso, Head of Communications and Direct Marketing at Fight for Peace.

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After the run, our athletes were able to participate in a special muay thai session, led by Fight for Peace Coach and athlete Jô Mello, and had the chance to learn about the other organisations from the Maré community who were exhibiting as part of the event and who also work in the areas of Women’s Health and the Defence of Women’s Rights. Present at the event once again was Fight for Peace’s inspirational Ambassador Carol Barcellos.

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Another special event participant was Maria Rejane, mother of Fight for Peace athlete Raíssa Souza de Lima, who ran beside her daughter for the first time ever. “It is the first time that we’ve run together, because she is not into sport! I am really excited because it must be the most beautiful thing to see her run, Raíssa told us.

On the eve of Mother’s Day in Brazil, Fight for Peace was delighted to have these two women participating in the Run, especially as they took part together, side by side.

Aged nine years old, Raíssa decided that she wanted to take up boxing in order to be able to defend her mother from the domestic abuse she suffered daily. Raíssa’s father’s violence was so bad that she even thought about killing him, but with the support of Fight for Peace, Raíssa was able to distance herself from anger and be inspired by her mother’s example.

“Sport helped me a  lot. I thought that my mother would be killed by my father and that I would have to kill him somehow. I remember that sometimes my mother would be sleeping and my father would wake her up just to beat her. She would wake up terrified. How many times did he chase her with a knife to try to kill her? My mother never had any idea that I began sport in the first place with this intention. But it was sport, and the help of the psychologists and educators, which allowed me get better and understand what was happening at home and how we could act. After some time, my parents separated and I never thought again about beating my father”.

After training boxing and karate, Raíssa, now 22 years old, began focusing on judo and she currently coaches this martial art at Fight for Peace as well as at five schools in Maré. Her biggest dream is to finish university, provide a house for her mother and continue teaching young boys and girls using sport. “Now I understand the importance of the transformational process that sport provides because I have been part of it. I want as many children and young people to see sport in this way too, so that I can help other people in the same way as I was helped.”

Photos: Felipe Rangel and Cleiton Soares, Fight for Peace.