But actually, what do Anne Frank and Brazilian youth have in common? Why does Anne’s story move and inspire wherever it goes, even after so many years?
According to the president of “Plataforma Brasil” Institute, Joelke Offringa, in an interview for the newspaper “O Globo” “it is youth talking to youth. These are adolescent issues experienced during a situation of extreme difficulty, in which she could find ways of overcoming. Therein lies this deep connection” – she argues.
“In her diary, Anne recounts many clashes with her mother, who was a housewife. She wanted to see the world, to have her voice heard, and to accomplish things her mother could not, given the culture of that time. She is very focused on her studies, she dreamed of being a writer or a journalist. She had professional plans that went far beyond taking care of the house.”
And she adds: “Many young Brazilians live in a very difficult situation, where discrimination, racism and exclusion are quite present. Perhaps they never imagined that a rich white girl from a developed country could go through an even more difficult situation. The life story of Anne Frank makes the young realize that anyone can be subject to discrimination, because it is a social construction.”
Adriana Terra, educator of the Anne Frank Youth Network – Cabreuva, believes in the identification of young people as one of the factors: “Anne touches the hearts of young people. Besides this identification, she gives them the courage to talk about their feelings, anguishes and especially the courage to face the difficulties of being a teenager,” she says.
According to educator Suely Araujo of the Anne Frank Youth Network – Santos, Anne inspires her because she has reflected upon human existence at such a young age. “I identify with her, I was already very mature by the age of 13 and questioned myself about life, love,and what is important and valuable … In addition, she inspires us to question our world and the actions we make during our lives”.
Sandra Mara, an educator leading the actions of the Anne Frank Youth Network in Belo Horizonte, believes that the young people establish a connection with Anne Frank because they identify with her, her ideals and fears. “Her message of peace, her belief in human kindness, resilience, and faith inspire young people to strive for social transformation. Anne Frank in her refuge, despite all her fear and anguish, was able to be free through her writing. She enjoyed life and had many projects. She is an example to be followed”.
Northeast: art, poetry and hope
In Piaui State, the “Anne Frank Present” project holds lectures, which take the example of the Jewish girl Anne Frank to fight against intolerance (ethnic-racial, sexual, political, religious, etc.), and organizes exhibitions of materials associated with war (books, Dutch army uniforms, original rationing cards from World War II).
Professor Randal Vieira who has a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the State University of Piaui (UESPI) and is a specialist in Popular Education and Human Rights and Social Movements from the State University of Piaui gives the lectures.
According to him, to carry on with Anne Frank’s history is to preserve the memory of those who, like her have suffered religious, ethnic, cultural and humanitarian persecutions. It promotes, mainly among the young public, the awareness about the facts and fosters values of respect, empathy and goodness. “This mission begins inside the school environment where young people suffer from bullying and discrimination, sometimes without even understanding why. It strives to make children and adolescents aware of the importance of reading and questioning in order to not allow a situation like the Holocaust to happen again. Therefore, it is essential and important to encourage the study of the Holocaust, the assembling of projects and activities to reintegrate the youth in that reality so that values and especially awareness about the facts can be awakened” he explains.
The professor points out that the Diary of Anne Frank reaches all audiences, but especially the Brazilian public because of their personal experiences, in which mainly young people from poor communities face great difficulties, with little hope. “That is why the Diary affects personally the young Brazilians who read it, because even in the middle of war, ideological disruptions, the loss of freedom and the persecution of its people, Anne continued to believe that people were essentially good and had a good heart; she had faith in better days, she had perseverance that the war would end, and that at last she might be free to write and publish. Anne Frank means perseverance, hope, faith, and kindness. Anne shows this faith through the pages to her readers, who feel close to her, like a personal friend who thinks: “Anne went through all this and still maintained her faith and her goodness, so I can also do this”.
The first question children and adolescents raise when they first hear the story is: “but why did they do this to those innocent people?” or “I could not stand being stuck without being able to go out and play, this Anne girl was really strong”. So it is apparent that for them this girl symbolizes strength and inspires them to realize that faith and perseverance is possible even when problems and adversities exist, This leads them to think about the importance of giving value to what they have now: a school, a bed to sleep in, and food, amongst other things”.
He ends saying: “the young Brazilian sees in the Anne girl a mirror to their own, who faces daily battles every day. Anne Frank is to young people the essence of what she produces; it is as in her own quote: “As long as you can lift up your eyes to the sky without fear, you will know that you have a pure heart, and that means happiness. “
About Anne Frank Present Project
The ‘Anne Frank Present’ Project was conceived four years ago by Professor Randal Vieira, who felt the need for pedagogical improvement in the Northeastern region of Brazil to encourage the habit of reading and writing through the book The Diary of Anne Frank, as well as raising awareness of the importance of human rights. The theme was researched locally in some countries that experienced World War II.
The project counts today with the support of ten volunteers who meet monthly to articulate new activities. They organize lectures and take the example of the Jewish girl to oppose any kind of intolerance (ethnic-racial, sexual, political, religious, etc.), as well as organizes the exhibition of materials associated with that period (books, Dutch army uniforms, original rationing cards from World War II). The lectures are given by Professor Randal Vieira in schools, colleges and universities of Piaui and other States of Brazil, for all kind of public and age.The project counts today with the support of ten volunteers who meet monthly to articulate new activities. They organize lectures and take the example of the Jewish girl to oppose any kind of intoleranceThe project counts today with the support of ten employees who meet monthly to articulate new activities. It holds lectures by taking the example of the Jewish girl to oppose any kind of intolerance (ethnic-racial, sexual, political, religious, etc.), as well as organizes the exhibition of materials associated with that period (books, Dutch army uniforms, original rationing cards from World War II). The lectures are given by Professor Randal Vieira in schools, colleges and universities of Piaui and other States of Brazil, for all kind of public and age.
Thanks to this initiative, the Diary of Anne Frank is the best selling book today in the State of Piaui. This project has no governmental support from municipal, state or federal scope but it counts on the partnership of other projects that address themes as Gender / Domestic-Family Violence, training on theatrical techniques and history, the use of music in the fight against intolerance, Comic Books producing techniques (comic book and rescue of indigenous culture of the Tapuio and Tabajara people).
The last action took place in the city of Magalhães de Almeida (Maranhão State) with the topic “The Anne Frank diary and the construction of tolerance”, and was carried out through10 (ten) different activities, like workshops and lectures, all addressing tolerance as the main theme. The pinnacle was the publication of a book produced from selected reports of students’ diaries participating in the project. The book was entitled ‘Timelines’ and launched during the last activity with the presence of Salgado Maranhão, Brazil’s greatest living poet, who is also a supporter of this project.
Anne turns to poetry in the words of Salgado Maranhão
Salgado Maranhão, a poet and composer from Maranhão State, was also charmed by Anne. Winner of the Jabuti Prize in 2016 with the book ‘Opera de Naos‘, the poet dedicated the delicacy of his words to Anne, recalling in his poem the strengthof the Jewish girl that continues to transform the lives of young people who yearn for a better world.
I read your name written in memory
of those who resist beyond the walls,
reaping fruits of small glories
and small passions – and even auguries,
following tracks that are just sparks
of fireflies against a dark time.
But, resisting the curve of the nails,
flapping wings where the eagle lives
with their children and their tertulias.
However, our joy still cries
while carrying the weight of this nuisance
to be inside feeling out;
of so much exalting the peace of the mud,
between wiles and usury until bleeding,
with such cynicism that, in a way
we remain in the same place:
if we have not yet learned to die,
we did not learn not to kill