“When we first got here we soon realised that that there weren’t many qualified professionals. And so we set up an intensive training programme for 372 people, and this doubtless contributed to the success of the project.”
For the people who were involved in the construction of the plant, Nova Olinda was a great opportunity to play an important role in the life of their communities. It was also part of the economic and social rebirth of the State of Piauí, which happens to be one of the poorest in Brazil.
“I was born in this region, and I consider myself a child of its traditional communities. And this is what we believe in: in a project that enables us to talk, not just to the local communities, but also to the social partners and municipal representatives; to everyone, in point of fact.”
In addition to the training courses, EGP also promoted a number of educational programmes. The subject matter didn’t only include solar energy, but also respect for the environment, as well as the quilombolas’ culture and rights.
Sustainability through reuse
Estreito and Eliezer are two quilombos located approximately 25 km from the Nova Olinda plant. Dona Maria de Lourdes is the oldest woman in the two villages and is a highly respected – and much loved – member of the community.
The square was built out of leftover wood that had originally been supplied for the construction of the plant. Some 150 volunteers from EGP and partner companies chipped in, helping to transform pallets and coils into fences, benches and playground equipment. In this way they created a meeting point for members of the two communities, a place where children can play and adults can chat.
“We believe that the creation of shared value begins with respect for the culture and identity of the local communities. Now that construction work has been completed, we hope that the community can embrace its new know-how, and that the local area can develop. After all, this is precisely what being sustainable means!”
The project for the square in Estreito and Eliezer has also been successfully replicated in the community of Saco/Curtume. It’s a great example of how sustainability projects, just like the traditions of the quilombolas, can live on in the heart of the local area.