Flavio Pimienta’s childhood dreams of being a rock star have come true, but in a way he never imagined. Along with his band, he’s travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and played for world leaders and corporate sponsors like British Airways. The members of his band, however, come from some of the poorest slums in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In a city with the largest slum population in South America, Pimienta runs a non-profit organization called Meninos do Morumbi, which means Boys of Morumbi. Though Morumbi is one of the more wealthy neighborhoods in the city, children from the surrounding slums, including the nearby Paraisópolis favela, come and learn music as well as English, information technology, and arts for free. He started teaching three kids in 1997 has now grown into an institution that teaches hundreds of children and teenagers.
Despite its inclusive nature, Pimienta demands a lot from his students. In order to create the identity and sense of belonging he wants his students to feel, he demands they work hard at their craft. This work ethic prepares his students for the rest of their lives.
“It is not enough to want something. You have really to have dedication,” he says. “This reflects in other aspects of their lives at some point. There is a bit of talent involved, a bit of magic, but it is mostly hard work.”
This week’s game changer is Flavio Pimienta of Sao Paulo.