Transforming Lives and Communities with Capoeira

4 min readJul 18, 2016


In the southern outskirts of the city of São Paulo, Magrão’s capoeira classes serve as a learning and inspiring playground for children. In addition to learning a new activity, students receive emotional support and a new outlook on life.

“Affection, love and understanding are the basis of my teachings.” — Magrão (Founder of Filhos da Corrente)

Magrão understands the current needs and fragility of each of his students. He has lost several friends and family members from violence. The lack of opportunities he had growing up had led him to become involved in crime.

It is not easy to sway children from the temptations of crime and the street, where it is possible to earn over R$500.00 per week. But Magrão somehow succeeds. Children and parents count on Magrão’s experience, knowledge, and optimism. They see a greater future ahead.

At Filhos da Corrente there is ample time for play and camaraderie. Most importantly, there is opportunity for individual and group support. Personal and family concerns such as violence and drugs are addressed.

Elizangela’s Story:

By the age of 18, Elizangela Lopes had left home to live on the street, and was living in impoverished conditions. She entered a life of crime, was arrested several times, and watched many of her closest friends violently pass away. The choice to make a change was her own.

According to Elizangela, leaving behind the streets and crime is a slow and arduous process. But, she admits that once she was introduced to Magrão and capoeira, her life became much easier. Today she is the president of Filhos da Corrente.

Like Elizangela, Magrão also saw his life transformed by capoeira. His personal and professional transformation is in large part due to the teachings of Capoeira master Tigrão, and from the support of Sister Barbara.

As his past teachers, Magrão also believes in incorporating education, after-school programs, and mentorship as the principle tools for creating change in a community.


Magrão’s advice is especially comforting and life-changing for those who hesitate to pursue life’s opportunities. According to Magrão, “Opportunity is an unknown phrase to many of us in our community. It [opportunity] is mostly perceived as luck. When we have an opportunity, we are not prepared to receive it.” He is often invited into the homes of those in need of support. There is no task too great with which he can help.

“I have buried my mother, two sons, two brothers and an uncle. I know what it is to lose a life from lack of opportunity.”- Magrão

The Future:

In 2015, Filhos da Corrente was reaching upwards of 1,200 students. With the resources raised from the 2015 BrazilFoundation Gala Miami, Filhos da Corrente will soon finish the construction of their first headquarters. As a result, the impact on children and adults alike will likely multiply. Also, Magrão will be able to expand his teacher training program, which would enable many of his students to eventually find work not just in Brazil but also abroad.

How Can You Help Make a Difference?

BrazilFoundation supports social projects such as Filhos da Corrente every year. You, too, can help and make a difference. Your generosity ensures future success and impactful results.

Text and Photos by: Bernardo Carvalho, Photographer and volunteer at BrazilFoundation.