Photos by Jose Wong Baez
[Nico Ball recently left her life as a teacher to train mixed martial arts full-time in Brazil. Originally from Pennsylvania, she attended George Mason University in Virginia and got her Masters degree studying the impact of martial arts-based social projects. She’s now living the fighter’s life and pursuing her dream to become a pro mixed martial artist, but has found a way to continue her interest in creating social change by helping organize The Tererê Kids Project, a nonprofit for the children living in poverty in the favela of Morro do Contagalo. The project is centered around jiu jitsu star Fernando Augusto da Silva, widely known by his nickname Tererê, who used the Gentle Art as a way to escape a life of crime. We asked her to send us periodic updates of how the Project is going.]
At 6 A.M the favela is asleep and there is a stoic silence that is interrupted only by the smell of freshly baked bread, the early cry of the roosters, and the sporadic crackling of the drug dealers’ radios. At 6:15, Julio Nogueira left his house, he stopped briefly to stuff a few stray beer cans lying in the street into a small white trash bag, that he’s taking to deposit into the large bins at the base of the favela, and then continued on his way.
He turned the corner and stopped once more at the top of the stairs to take in the view. The edge of the stairs dropped off into a desolate cement soccer field piled with trash and other debris. There had once been a fence that bordered the field and protected balls from flying down the mountainside, but it had been torn down and left on the side of the field. It looked ….View full article