By Lala the Sunchaser.
Do you believe in fairy tales? The longer I stay in Itacaré, the more I believe.
Some days I feel as though I’m in a dream or on a movie set in paradise. But it’s not only the natural beauty that evokes these feelings, it’s the people who live here too. For the past five months, I’ve been volunteering with an organization called Punho Forte which loosely translates to Fight Back. Punho Forte is a non-profit before and after school program that promotes education, optimal health, foreign language development, and extracurricular activities. Ronara Santos, Professor of Basic Education Studies for sixteen years, is the fairy God Mother at Punho Forte. I was surprised to hear that she’s only been working with them for one year. It’s as if she has been there since the beginning. The children adore her!
What is your first memory of Itacaré?
I arrived during my adolescent years (22 years ago), I remember meeting my friends at the Praça de São Miguel near the big church. I also remember how peaceful it felt. There was hardly any violence back then.
Where do you live and with whom?
I have lived on Pituba 3 for the past ten years with my daughter and my dog, Bigu (short for Bigurrilho which means little fragile thing). A most-fitting name indeed.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Singing, painting, sewing (she made the dresses for the holiday, São João, using left over junk food packaging), and any thing related to the arts.
What is your favorite type of music and who are some of your favorite artists or singers?
I love Brazilian Popular Music (M.P.B.). My favorite singers in this category are Marisa Monte and Vanessa da Mata. I also love the classic singers … Maria Bethania, Gal Costa, Roberta Sa, and Djavan … she kept rattling on names until I had to stop her … then she blurted out, oh and my favorite samba musician is Nelson Cavaquinho. Look on the internet for his music, you will love it!
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
1) That my children grow to be independent and well-formed in society.
2) That I have the energy to help others more.
3) I also wish to learn how to reciprocate more, and be less egotistical in the process.
What do you hope for the future of Itacaré? Taking an enormous deep breath: Our government and the people must get better at organizing the small things … being better administrators. The main areas that need support are education, maintaining and enriching our culture, security (for locals and tourists), and better health care.
Itacaré may be paradise but let’s just say I would never want to get seriously injured here.
What do you hope for the future of Punho Forte?
– to build our own space (currently the use a space on loan in one of the schools)
– to attract more volunteers – to secure better financing to execute more projects
– to offer professional courses so the children feel equipped to be in the world and workforce
Favorite Itacaré beach?
Resende and Jeribucaça
Manga Rosa for their fish. Ronara loves to cook and bake. Her final words on the subject of eating were, “I adore anything made with chocolate.”
Do you have any plans to leave Itacaré?
Not at all. I want to stay here. It’s where I constructed my life story … where I studied, had a family, and build my career in education. I love living here.
In addition to looking after the many children of Punho Forte, Ronara supports her two teenage children and spends time with her partner who lives in Salvador. She is a most certainly a guiding light, adding to the magical beauty in Itacaré.