Lazos Latam - Schusterman Connection Point in Latin America

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Fabiana Kaczelnik is a social entrepreneur who lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and works for the NGO Instituto Empreender, which promotes employability for youth and people with disabilities.

When I received an invitation to apply for Lazos Latam, at first it did not catch my attention. I thought it was another one of those gatherings to discuss the future of the Jewish community and I did not intend to go, but a very good friend of mine insisted until the last day and the last hours of the application deadline, that I should apply. With her insistence, I ended up applying... I thought I was not going to be chosen, and when the answer did not come on the day they said it would, I said to my friend: "I told you, they did not choose me, I was not meant to go." However, the next day, the answer came and I discovered that I was accepted! 

I went to Iguazu hoping to meet interesting people and see the Iguazu Falls, without worrying that I would have to think about a project for my community, which was the goal of the gathering. As expected, I met very interesting people who are very involved in their communities, people like me, who want to make a difference. But one thing bothered me from the beginning: out of the 60 people from all over Latin America, I was the only one from Brazil! It was not that I did not feel welcome or the fact that I was the only one from a country that does not speak Spanish, but  it was because I came from a country with more than 100,000 Jews and a city (Rio de Janeiro) with 30,000 of us, and I was the only one there representing my community. There were people from 25 cities/communities, most of them smaller than mine, with several representatives. What a responsibility it was to be there! Participating in Lazos made me realize that communities need to connect more so we can help each other more. We are Jews, we have always helped each other, and this is one of the most important values of our religion and culture! 

After the experience of being the only Brazilian in Lazos, creating a project became a natural thing and not an obligation. The Brazilian Jewish community needs to connect more internally, with Latin America and the world. I would like to thank ROI for the opportunity of using the Micro Grant to go to Lazos Latam and congratulate Ariela Lijavetsky, Diego Goldman and all staff for having done such a beautiful gathering, down to the smallest details.