Day 16 (May 4th, 2011)
Early in the morning, the team loaded back into the van to head to Teresina. We bid adieu to Pedro II and hit the road for a three hour ride. After a short stop for some ice cream (yes, if you can drink in the morning in Brazil, ice cream is completely acceptable too) we met our Teresina host families and headed home for an afternoon of rest.
I spent the evening with my family as their son Pedro had his 16th birthday party. In Canada, my mom would make our favorite meal on our birthday (at our request, of course). In Brazil, there was about 20 people and fine china! What a difference!
The rest of the team headed out to a few bars for a drink with one of the Rotary Clubs in Teresina. I hear a good time was had by all and some team members made it home at 3:30am!
Day 17 (May 5th, 2011)
Today was our first day of vocational visits. We started the day with a tour of a company that manufacture mattress and couches. What a process! All the creation and assembly is done at a plant in Teresina that has been in operation for 36 years. We were able to see all the stages of construction from beginning to end. The wire that is coiled for springs, making foam for the mattress, assembling and packaging the completed products. A very interesting process.
The second factory manufacture bicycles. Orginally started as a computer manufacturer, it now is the largest producer of bikes in South America. Similar to the first company, we saw the process from beginning to end. The warehouse space was unbelievible! Bikes, in various stages, for all the eye could see. They plan to expand in the next year to produce one million bikes per year. And interesting project that just began, involves the government and education. The company is completing the first order of bikes for children to ride to school. The kids that receive these school-bus-yellow bikes must be enrolled in school. The idea is to decrease the barriers to accessing education.
After a delicious lunch at a churrascaria (re: BBQ) buffet, we headed to the last factory on the tour. Here they manufacture clothing. Originated in 1975, the company has been creating clothing for domestic and export use. Currently, they have retooled operations to focus on designing, creating and manufacturing clothing for the Brazilian market. From concept to completion, we saw how the clothes we wear are made. The process is amazing! I had no idea so much work went into getting clothes to my closet. The plant employs 850 people and makes 16000 pieces of clothing per month.
All three factories are owned by a family company. It was evident that they strive for improving the conditions and lives of their employees. Health care is provided onsite for employees and their families with the goal of having healthy workers. Because my professional background is in health prevention and promotion, it was good to note that hearing protection was used, egronomic equipment was in place and the health of employees was addressed. They have many long term employees, which indicates that people like their jobs; an important concept to any profession. Compensation and training is dependent on what role an employee has and bonuses depend on productivity. At all three sites, our tour guides noted that finding skilled persons can be difficult even with the opportunity for onsite training. This is attributed to a lack of intrinsic motivation to work.
After a long day, we headed home to our respective host families. We are heading out for pizza! Delizioso!