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Gisele Martin is Voice of the future, has the right to live in peace.

Saturday at 9 o'clock, she arrives. She is thin and not too tall. 26 years old, but still looks like a girl with her beautiful smile, rather than a grown up woman. We walked together to the headquarters of the newspaper “O Cidadão da Maré” – which means ‘Citizen of the Tide’ – where she volunteers as a journalist.

Her name is Gizele de Oliveira Martins. She lives at the “Complex of the Tide” (Complexo da Maré) and has worked at the newspaper since its beginning, eleven years ago. Everyone who works at the newspaper is a volunteer. This brings difficulties because the newspaper activities are very time-consuming and the volunteers also need to find time to have a paid job.

Gisele was born and raised in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Her personality is strong. She has gone through several difficulties throughout her life, but this only made her stronger.

For four years she took the exam to get into university, but was not approved. She took classes in a project aimed at preparing people from the community to take the university exam and has later on volunteered at the same project helping other students to enter college. She finally won a scholarship and chose to study journalism. “I did not see myself represented in mainstream media. Therefore, when I got to know “The Citizen” I asked to join the team. I fell in love with community communication”, Gisele declares.
Always concerned with social causes, Gisele is investing in her career as a journalist to give a voice to her community. She has worked for the past two years as the editor of “The Citizen”.
Her professional choice changed her life. She became a role-model in her community. When a resident finds a problem or suffers some kind of discrimination, he or she calls and asks Gisele for advice and orientation or even suggests a story.

“The Citizen” newspaper is located in northern Rio de Janeiro, in the “Complex of the Tide”. The ‘complex’ has 130,000 inhabitants, representing a total of 16 slums (or “favelas”). Most residents are migrants from the north and northeastern regions of Brazil. Although ‘favelas’ are stigmatized in Brazil for its poverty and lack of infrastructure, the streets are very clean and then trade is organized and varied.

“The Citizen” circulates among the ‘favelas’ promoting local integration, even though the drug lords are different in each community and sometimes rivals, which can represent a huge challenge for the newspaper.

The newspaper is independent. It is not subject to the drug lords or the government. Its team is strong and advocates for the victims of violence, although this frequently means the team is threatened by the powerful ones in the complex.

When I asked Gisele what led her to choose the newspaper as her career, she replies with a smile and the confidence of a warrior: “I’m talking about me, my causes, my dreams. I am part of this community. What affects them, affects me. The most important thing is to seek the true representation of what we – slum residents – are”.

“The Citizen” has the role of fostering local culture, giving value to the people from the community and to advocate for human rights in the local level. Gisele says that this is not done in mainstream media vehicles. “The mass media always refers to slum residents (“favelados”) as if we were all criminals, lazy, dirty and worthless. We are seen as guilty for our own existence. Community communication does the exact opposite”, she affirms.

Gisele says that every team member has a defined function in the newspaper. In her opinion, for a newspaper to work well the team members must respect the hierarchy. Members can be sympathetic to others by giving suggestions and helping out however they can, but it is important to respect the final decisions of the person responsible for that activity. To be part of the team, one does not have to live at the ‘complex’. It is enough to believe in the newspaper’s relevance and be responsible.

The newspaper’s topics are suggested by the team and ‘complex’ residents. The different topics must be of interest to local residents of the community. The team votes in order to choose the topics for the following issue.
Gisele complements: “We invest in training new readers. Thus schools are included in the distribution of the newspaper. The teachers use the newspapers in their classes so that current issues and things that happen in the community are studied by the children."
In 2008, the newspaper conducted a survey in the slums to discover the profile of its readers. It was discovered that “The Citizen” serves the needs of children, youth, adults and seniors: it serves the community as a whole. The interest is due to the internal structure of newspaper. There are articles on hobbies, recipes, articles, health and cultural issues.

“The Citizen” is supported by the people from the slums that make up the complex. "The community has embraced the newspaper. When a resident finds sheets of the newspaper on the floor, they come to us and ask our team to pay more attention who we delivering it to", says Gisele.

“The Citizen”’s team is composed of only three people. A few challenges they face are insufficiency of office materials and lack of money. There were four pages dedicated to advertisements. Today they no longer have these ads, since the newspaper suffers from long delays. The money raised was used to keep the distributors and to buy the paper and office materials, as well as to pay the van carrying the newspapers in the main distribution points of the community."

Around 20,000 copies of the paper are distributed in the slums of the ‘complex’. In order to keep it, a graphic store makes a monthly donation, but the team is unable to maintain production on account of having to work to survive and also due to lack of adequate equipment.

As the Complex of the Tide is very large, six young people are paid to distribute the newspaper in the slums. The money comes from donations of the team members themselves.
When asked about what was the most important issue about women in the community that they had written about, she answered with a smile: “Many. We have written about STDs, sexuality, contraception, health and hygiene, children’s education, violence against women and children, loss of children due to violence etc.”
Gizele majored in journalism, she concluded her college education. She is definitely a winner. In her thesis, she told the story of two people who lived in her community. A 3 year old boy and a girl, who were both shot dead by the police, in a cross fire with the drug lords. Her thesis got the highest grade, which shows she is a journalist prepared to give a voice to her community and the periphery of Rio de Janeiro.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous new media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

The text was written in Portuguese and translated into English by Google translator, the context of the interview is a slum in Rio de Janeiro.

Gizele has the desire to be paid and work as a journalist in the newspaper "The Citizen of the Tide" doing their communication within the favela. "Do not know yet how to get financial resources to maintain the professional and the newspaper."

We talked a lot about the possibilities on a workshop in 2012 where I will pass on to the community learning acquired by favela WordPulse.

As for my plans is to promote the various slums that what I learned working with Word Press, offering the community a better way to publicize the issues that plague it.



Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Great article! I love the

Great article! I love the way you weave quotes in frequently. Does Gizele or her team have any plans for seeking out grants? It would be interesting to include their plans for the future. You might also want to start with a small statement (or put this at the bottom of the article) that says that the interview and original material was written in Portugese and translated to English. It gives the reader some context.

Keep up the good work!


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

BlueSky's picture


And THAT's what we are all doing, for who has yet ARRIVED!?! Great story Valeria. Volunteering is the BEST way to become employed. She is already learning the ropes and gaining valuable experience. May Gizele's perseverance and diligence one day bring her to the pinnacle of that career for which today she is only aspiring to be employed.

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Gizele Martin and You!

Dear Valeria,

Your head and heart are clearly in the right place to make a positive difference in the world. Gizele is an excellent choice for an interview in all respects, and you've done her justice in your representation of her heroism. I so admire her honesty and determination.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication!

With Respect,

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby, WP Vision Mentor

Jocelynbrazil's picture

Sua voz eh podorosa!

Gostei mto do seu reportagem! Acho que vc tem uma voz mto podoroso e ficei mta interesada na vida da Gizele e na trabalha dela na favela. Obrigada por tudo que vc faz tambem com sua comunidade e com World Pulse. Vou gostar de ler tudo que vc escrever.

Thais Moraes's picture

Querida Valéria

Estou orgulhosa de você. Gizele é definitivamente um exemplo inspirador de liderança. Tenho certeza que ela, assim como você, já transformou muitas vidas. Fico feliz que existam mulheres como vocês aqui no Brasil.

Continue escrevendo com a paixão e dedicação que você vem demonstrando!

Grande abraço,


Thaís Moraes

MaDube's picture

I am always inspired by these

I am always inspired by these young women who a taking the world by storm and doing wonderful for their communities even in the face of enormous difficulties. It is one thing to be addressing questions of poverty, empowerment and security but it is another thing altogether when in doing so you challenge individuals and groups such as the drug cartels in your country. She is a brave young woman and I hope someone out there will recognise the value of her work and provide adequate funding to keep the programme going.

mrbeckbeck's picture

Great job!

Thank you so much for introducing us to this inspiring young journalist and activist! I think you have done a wonderful job telling her story and the work she is doing with the newspaper. I am impressed that she has done so much at such a young age. I hope to see her go far in her effort to raise awareness and break stereotypes about life in the flavelas. I hope that the group receives the financial resources necessary to keep this work up!

Great work, and thank you again!
Happy New Year,

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

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