YouthSpark Star

Josinaldo da Silva Batista

Living on $50 a month, this rural
youth found new opportunity
through a tech-skills training
program.

3D Animator Leaves Nutty Career Behind

At 15, life seemed bleak for Josinaldo da Silva Batista. He was living in the outskirts of Fortaleza in Northwest Brazil, his time divided between classes in a public school and working at a co-op brushing chestnuts. Scraping chestnuts from their hard, spiny shells didn’t give Josinaldo the mental stimulation he craved, but the $50 per month it provided his family was desperately needed.


“It was not an activity which offered me a great perspective for my future,” said Josinaldo.

Josinaldo knew he wanted something more. Though Fortaleza is Brazil’s fifth largest city, the outskirts are remote, and Josinaldo’s family had difficulty accessing the outside world. A lack of infrastructure meant no computers at his high school, little public transportation, and no running water or sewage system.

With the blessing of his family, Josinaldo decided to quit the co-op and apply for a free two-year course in digital communications sponsored by a Microsoft nonprofit partner, Advanced Technical and Vocational Institute (ITEVA). The ITEVA office in Aquiraz was about a 40-minute bus ride from Josinaldo’s home. He had to get up early each morning, travel to ITEVA, and then take the bus home to Fortaleza for high school classes.


Josinaldo da Silva Batista, right, stands with fellow collaborators at the YouthSpark Live forum in Mexico. Josinaldo joined other tech stars from around Latin America at the forum. It was his first time leaving Brazil.

After a series of tests, interviews, and group dynamic sessions, Josinaldo and 27 others were selected out of a pool of 650 candidates to participate in a free Mediacom course. Josinaldo and the others knew nothing about computers—they would learn from the ground up.

“It is interesting to know that he came here without having ever connected with a computer in his life,” said ITEVA Director Fabio Beneduce, adding that he admired Josinaldo’s dedication and willingness to overcome obstacles. “Today he has a huge potential; he is studying computer science, he stands out and he is an example for all the other youngsters here.”

Josinaldo is an example of how access to technology and skills training can change lives. His story is also emblematic of many youth stories around the world that led Microsoft to launch its YouthSpark initiative to create opportunities for 300 million young people worldwide over three years.

“YouthSpark is about empowering young people to imagine and realize their full potential,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in announcing the new initiative. “We’re committed to using our technology, our talent, our time and our resources to help tackle the issues facing young people around the world.”


Josinaldo listens to presenters at the YouthSpark Live forum in Mexico. YouthSpark Live is a Microsoft YouthSpark community that motivates young people to work together and use technology to improve their communities.

Josinaldo is certainly thankful. Through ITEVA, he has become an expert in 3D animation and video editing. He’s completed college-level courses through months of Microsoft training programs in Brazil. He even received first place in a C# programming competition in which many participants had more education and training. With that win, Josinaldo was awarded an all-expenses paid trip to the Microsoft YouthSpark Live summit in Mexico. It was the first time he’d left his home state.

Now 22, Josinaldo coordinates the IT section at ITEVA, teaching and mentoring students who have backgrounds similar to his own. He’s attending university and with the income from his new job, he was able to build a house. He has a wife and a young daughter, who will have better opportunities thanks to her father’s education and financial stability. Knowing he will be able to give his daughter a comfortable life and hopeful future means the world to Josinaldo.

“Technology has changed my life and the lives of all the people in my family,” Josinaldo said. “If it hadn’t been for (technology), today I would still be brushing chestnuts, or in some other activity that would not give the prosperity I have today.”


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