This is the story of an amateur boxer turned social anthropologist who decided to do something about the violence affecting street children in Brazil’s favelas. An impossible task? Luke Dowdney’s passion for boxing allows him to reach even hard-core young drug traffickers on Brazil’s streets.
How is it possibly, you may ask, for anyone to help dangerous and violent youths out of a hopeless situation? Dowdney uses boxing to gain access to the young people, bringing into play sport and martial arts as tools for personal development. His aim is to provide “an alternative to the armed violence and drug trafficking that often form[s] part of life for the young residents of Complexo da Maré,” a group of 17 slum settlements in Rio de Janeiro.
Since 2000 when Dowdney formed Fight for Peace, what started as a project to help 10 young people change their lives has turned into a non-profit organization that supports 2,250 youths a year and that set up a Fight for Peace Academy in London. As described on its website: “The Fight for Peace London Academy offers its activities and services to young people between the ages of 11 and 25, using the same Five Pillars methodology as in Rio de Janeiro: boxing and martial arts combined with education, support services, career and guidance advice and youth leadership, all underpinned by personal development, to realise the potential of young people in the local community.”
How can you help the disadvantaged in Rio’s favelas and London’s boroughs? By recommending that Fight for Peace be the charity of the year of your company, by payroll giving, by providing pro bono support or by volunteering or making in-kind gifts. Or propose any idea you may have to Alex Le Vey (+55 (0) 20 7474 0054 / firstname.lastname@example.org).