The play goes on - Projeto BIRA (Brazil)

"Ever since I was a kid, I've had a strong desire to travel all over Brazil, to get to know its diverse realities firsthand. When I'd travel with my parents, my eyes fixated on the landscape passing by, and I'd imagine myself visiting each little house on the side of the highway. I'd invent names and destinies for those kids with barefoot bodies whose eyes gazed into the wind, and for those old folks with crooked canes who spent hours on crooked benches in the shade of jacaranda trees . . . The childhoods and games in each place I passed were what always attracted me the most." - Renata Meirelles, How it all Began, Projeto BIRA

A few years ago - when I was getting started with BRINQ - I was thrilled to come across the work of Renata Meirelles and David Reeks, a Brazilian American couple that was working hard to document and share the toys and games of the Brazilian Amazon. Their stories of what they discovered and shared were truly inspirational and I had hoped to meet up with them on one of their trips back to the U.S. Unfortunately the timing didn't work out and I have since moved on to other projects, leaving my task of building a global toy chest sadly neglected. However a recent discussion on the Omidyar Network about recycled crafts and toys sent me looking for David and Renata's work once again and I was delighted to see what they've been doing in all this time.

BRINQ - A juggling workshop in Urucureá, Amazônia

BRINQ - A juggling workshop in Urucureá, Amazônia

Just how have they been keeping busy? Two short films, a number of film festival appearances and awards, dozens of presentations about Amazonian toys and play to school children in both the Brazil and the U.S., media coverage, a new website, return trips to the Amazon, and even a new documentary in the works.

Since I first discovered Projeto BIRA, I have been lucky to have made my own short trip to the Brazilian Amazon, where I was able to experience a few of the games and toys children play with in a few riverside communities, as well as sharing a few play activities of our own… some successfully, some not so successfully: FYI, embarrassment is when you can't remember how a game of duck duck goose ends. However, Renata and David spent more than 8 months visiting 16 communities in the Amazon - playing the whole way - and the depth of their work is at a whole other level: truly inspirational.

Previous story (2005): A Playful Exchange - O Projeto BIRA