Spotlight on Maré United: PRA ELAS

16/08/2019 – Introducing Pra Elas, one of four organisations that are currently participating in the latest round of Maré United, a Fight for Peace training programme supported by Petrobras. 

Pra Elas, which, roughly translated, means For Women in English, was born out of a conversation between two Fight for Peace members – Raíssa Lima and Miriam Parga – and one question in particular: “Which social projects focus on wellbeing and empowerment through sport for women aged over 30 in the Maré community?” And that’s how it came about – the creation of an NGO focusing on working exclusively with women aged 30 to 90 years old with the aim of developing mental and physical health using boxing and functional training, combined with group discussions and activities.

Raíssa remembers how it all began: “When the classes started, we saw that it was a fundamental project for women from Maré, because, as well as focusing on mental health in our classes, we also help forge and maintain friendships among participants.  A lot of the participants come from outside of the community and they don’t know many people. But they become part of Pra Elas and they find a different reality, new friends and they discover an activity that they like doing as well as a space to learn new things.”

“We work on the self-esteem of these women, just like we work on our own self-esteem at Fight for Peace. We create a safe space where they are able to learn more about their rights and we hope that the participants on the programme recognise our organisation an as embracing organisation, because our aim is to embrace everyone!”

“We chose to work with women over 29 years old because we understand that the violence that they suffer is very common. They often don’t have anyone to talk to and that’s why, in addition to the sports element of the programme, we also have lots of discussion groups. We want to open the minds of these women. Many of them  suffer a range of forms of violence, not just physical violence. Our goal is to pass on everything that we have learnt and show these women a different world.”

Pra Elas began at the start of this year but it has already grown significantly. The group has over 20 regular participants, all from the Maré community. These women train and learn together, while also passing on their knowledge to the young leaders of the project.

Through the Maré United project, Pra Elas is receiving training from Fight for Peace together with the other partner organisations on the project. The aim is to reach a common goal – a more united and inclusive Maré community.