The Brazilian Carnival – Unspoken Heroes and a Call to Action

With the music in the air and vibe on the streets, there’s no doubt that it’s Carnival time.

And if you’ve ever experienced the magnitude of what Carnival in Brazil is, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Though, underneath this celebration of the flesh (hence the name) there is an untold story you won’t read about in the media.

You see, the real hero’s of Carnival aren’t the Axé singers from Bahia, the “Rainha da Bateria”, Samba Schools or like.

It’s not in the glitz, glamor or samba costumes; rather the true hero’s of Carnival in Brazil are the unspoken little people.

And in line with that was my first Brazilian Carnival experience, it was probably much different than most people out there…

…this was an experience that altered my perception of Carnival forever.

Human Promotion

Those of you who have been a part of this blog for a while, know that I originally came to Brazil as a volunteer for a social help organization back in 2005.

This social help organization had a department called Human Promotion (Promoção Humana), where the people who were involved focused on helping people by showing them mercy and help in the times they needed it most.

I happened to be part of this Human Promotion group and our task during my first Carnival in Brazil, was to drive with a group of people to a city in the middle of nowhere to “help out”.

Picture of me with my “Human Promotion” t-shirt on from back in the day.

That’s a picture of me with my very cool “Promoção Humana” t-shirt on.

Little did I know what would await me…

My Arrival to Carnival

So we arrived in this little city called Panorama, São Paulo, despite the city size, there was nothing little about it!

During Carnival, It’s like they flipped some magical switch within the city center making the streets packed wall-to-wall with young partiers from all around the region.

But this time, I was going to sit all this action out, my focus was on looking for possibilities and opportunities to help these people in any way possible.

And I tell you what, focusing on helping people instead of partying really changes your carnival experience for good…

Picture extremely electric music with a hard bass line pumping it’s vibrations through the air and Brazilian bodies of the people dancing to it.

Picture of Carnival in Panorama – foto credit

The Patrões dancing, drinking and throwing confetti down from the camarotes to the little people below.

One example of the VIP people up high in a Camarote – photo credit: Canindé Soares

Initially while walking through this rowdy crowd of dancing Brazilians during the sizzling summer heat I only noticed that everybody was seemingly having a good time!

Boy was I wrong…

A Tearful Girl That Changed Everything

Late at night, as any safety conscientious person would, I started to blow fire into the crowd of partiers to get their attention – and it definitely worked.

A member of the Human Promotion team blowing fire

They quickly cleared a path for my fire either due to how cool the fire blowing was or maybe just to not get burned…

Anyways, it worked and I together with the Human Promotion team then proceeded to talk to the crowd about why they were there.

The reason for this is because it’s sometimes hard to see who is hurting inside when they fade away into the crowd, and it’s extremely important to find these people as they many times end up being victims of rape, get alcohol poisoning and other terrible things.

So after talking to the crowd a bit and letting them know that we as the Human Promotion team were there to help, more people then we could handle came forward…

But one person stood out above all of the others, it was a young dark haired teenage girl, sitting in a corner with tears rolling down her cheeks.

She was so distraught that she didn’t have the strength to come forward.

A Conversation That changed Things

And so I sat down and began to do everything possible to comfort her.

Picture of me sitting and chatting with a group of people.

Apparently her father abused her, she was severely depressed and considered taking her life that very night…

The air got really thick and she continued crying, but after conversing for a bit, she left with her head held high, a smile on her face and with a telephone number to someone who could help her.

And so I continued for the next several days helping others with this wonderful group of people.

What This All Means For You

During Carnival, the music is great, the dancing is fun and people are awesome, though it is also a time when people need help the most.

I’m not trying to put myself on a pedestal here or anything but rather give you a personal account of my experience.

So during this Carnival time (and in the future) I would like to pose a challenge to you and this community:

What opportunities do you have in front of you to make a difference?

And just so we’re clear, I’m not judging you if you decide to participate in Carnival or not – just putting it out there in hopes that it will motivate you to make a difference whether it is in Carnival now or in other situations in your life.

Thanks for sticking with me and will catch you soon!

Valeu – cheers,


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