Living on $50 a month, this rural
youth found new opportunity
through a tech-skills training
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.
“[He] came here without having ever connected with a computer in his life. 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 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
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.
“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.
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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