Vaga Lume Association is a Brazilian non-profit organization founded in 2001 grounded in the belief that investing in people is the best way to transform a reality. Its mission is to create opportunities for cultural exchange by reading, writing and orality, valuing the empowerment of people and rural communities of the Brazilian Legal Amazon region. Vaga Lume works in 160 rural communities (indigenous, riverside, roadside, rural settlement people or quilombolas - Brazilian with African descent) of 23 municipalities in the Brazilian Legal Amazon region, which encompasses nine federal states (Acre, Amapa, Amazonas, Maranhao, Mato Grosso, Para, Rondonia, Roraima and Tocantins), occupies 59% of the Brazilian territory and has 20 million people (12% of the Brazilian population). Despite the fact that education and culture are basic social rights, protected by the Brazilian Constitution and under human rights international treaties ratified by Brazil, its access and implementation in the Amazon region are very limited. It is one of the poverty zones in Brazil - with a GDP per capita 30% lower than the national value - where 42% of the population survives with less than US$ 5.00 a day. Due to the outstanding impact of Vaga Lume's work in the region, the organization is recognized by many international and national awards such as the Juscelino Kubitschek Award of Merit for Regional Development in Latin America and the Caribbean given by the Inter-American Development Bank (2009); the Millennium Development Goals Award, conferred by the United Nations and the Brazilian government (2005); the Vivaleitura Award, from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education (2008); and the Chico Mendes Environment Award, given by the Ministry of Environment (2006 and 2008). In 2011, Vaga Lume received its most important recognition: the 4th place at the Intercultural Innovation Award, conferred by United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the BMW Group. As an awardee, in 2012, Vaga Lume was welcomed to the World Intercultural Facility for Innovation (WIFI), a network formed by the UNAOC, the BMW Group and the ten 2011 winners. Through this network, the UNAOC and the BMW Group challenged all winners to replicate and scale up their actions to promote intercultural dialogue and offered training, consultancy and institutional support to assist organizations to accomplish such results.
The Brazilian Legal Amazon is home to 24 million people and occupies 61% of the country's territory. It is one of the poverty zones in Brazil and its rural areas have a high deficiency in or lack basic social services. Due to poor quality education, books are very rare goods - only 8.2% of public libraries of the country are in the North region - and 32% of Amazon people do not have full mastery of reading, therefore nor of writing (INAF, 2011).
Vaga Lume promotes access to books and reading in 149 rural communities of 23 municipalities in the Amazon, by creating community libraries and training volunteers as reading mediators, also encouraging the community management of the library, which gives long-term sustainability to the project. By doing that, the organization has benefited approximately 25 thousand children, teenagers and adults in the last 15 years.
By promoting qualified access to books and reading, Vaga Lume creates reading habits in Amazon children, helping them to achieve mastery in reading and writing skills - basic tools to citizenship. Only with a better quality education, children can expand their perspectives and opportunities so as to realize their full potentials and be protagonists of their lives. "The Vaga Lume' library and its books are really cool! At times, we do not have much to do, so we'll meet there to read." Ingrid,13.