Bidna Capoeira

Bidna Capoeira

Palestinian TerritoryLondon, United Kingdom
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Bidna Capoeira uses the Brazilian art, dance and sport form of capoeira to provide psychosocial help to children in refugee camps.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Throughout the world, many children live in stressful situations – poverty, war and conflict, natural disasters – that take a toll on their mental and physical health. In addition to the environmental stresses, children are also subject to the damage that environmental stress causes their parents; as such, children in these circumstances don’t always receive the love and positive attention that they need for healthy development. Furthermore, abuse and violence are often prevalent in these settings, and result in compromised emotional and physical health, especially for women and children. This context of chronic violence is often further compounded by conservative social and religious norms. Such environments rarely include a safe space for expression.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Starting with refugee populations in Syria and Palestine, Bidna Capoeira is reaching out to at-risk children and communities using the therapeutic capacity of capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian art that incorporates dance, music, sport, and play, as a tool to implement psychosocial programs in underserved communities around the world. We will tap into the worldwide capoeira community of millions to develop a network of volunteers who can implement social capoeira programs wherever there’s a need. This program is serving as a pilot for social capoeira programs that can be implemented in vulnerable communities around the world and are supported by a network of volunteers, connected through an online environment. In addition to building the network itself, we are developing a model for creating sustainable, locally-run capoeira centers that provide psychosocial skills and support the emotional and physical health of countless children, women, and communities in a low-cost, high-impact way.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We are teaching capoeira to children and women in refugee camps in Palestine, providing workshops that not only teach physical movements, but also the cooperative philosophy of capoeira, teaching life skills about communication, cooperation, anger management, responsibility, and respect. These new life skill are learned experientially, making a lasting impact in a short time The classes also include a “social roda” component that has been developed, implemented, and monitored by psychologists, and which covers behavioral therapy, group relationships, life skills, expressive therapy using music and visual art, and discussions about health, violence, and other pertinent topics. The capoeira creates openings for therapy that may otherwise be inaccessible due to anger, depression, or other emotional barriers. Physical movement and music can increase receptivity to learning new things. The communal activities inherently promote therapeutic expression and release that are more comfortable and beneficial than talk therapy alone. Through capoeira, refugees and other at-risk communities not only learn to identify with their own bodies, they are also given an otherwise rare opportunity to feel a sense of control in their lives, in this case over their physical selves. Playing capoeira can lend a sense of personal freedom, even under conditions where freedom is rarely felt or experienced. People experience a new way of life in which they take care of their bodies and their minds, using methods that are not only enjoyable, but also joyful.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Existing social capoeira programs do not provide resources in a scalable way across diverse cultures. We are developing templates for this purpose, including a Monitoring and Evaluation system to track participants’ psychosocial progress. In addition, there does not exist an international network to connect capoeiristas to social development projects. In Palestine, there are sport and recreation programs that contribute to social aims, such as the Palestinian Circus School, but they can be exclusive and resource-dependent. We have connections with the Palestine Association for Children’s Encouragement of Sports, which has a network of children, coaches, and centers across the country. There exists a capoeira school in Palestine, with whom we are training in social capoeira methods.

Founding Story

Tarek Alsaleh had created CapoeirArab in Syria in 2007, and was asked to provide a workshop in Al-Tanf refugee camp near the Syrian-Iraqi border. After a basic introduction, the kids and the community at the camp wanted more; in fact, after just one session, they had started their own roda in which they were playing, clapping, and singing capoeira songs on their own. The children changed “Bidna capoeira! Bidna capoeira!” not only providing a clear message, but also inspiring the name of our organization. While Tarek already knew the power of capoeira from his firsthand experience, the psychosocial counselor at the camp confirmed the potential impact for at-risk kids; she quickly recognized that capoeira worked on multiple levels with the children. From having traveled around the world and finding home in capoeira communities everywhere he went, he was inspired to tap into the international capoeira family to share the magic and beauty of social capoeira with those who need it most.
About You
Bidna Capoeira
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Bidna Capoeira

Organization Country

, LND, London

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

Capoeira is played in more than 100 countries by millions of people from all walks of life. We aim to tap into this global family in order to share the gifts of the art form with vulnerable communities around the world. To do this, we are piloting a program in refugee camps and oppressed communities in Palestine in order to develop templates, tools, and resources that others could implement in communities worldwide. Furthermore, we are creating innovative administrative and online infrastructure that will connect interested volunteers with social capoeira projects internationally. We intend to support the launch of sustainable social capoeira programs such that kids and communities have the psychosocial skills and the emotional strength to endure their difficult circumstances.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The impact of capoeira on children we work with is immediate: teachers and families notice improvements in communication, respectful behavior, and emotional management from their first class. Kids learn to work together as a community, thinking beyond their individual wants, becoming more tolerant and patient, and understanding alternatives to violence as a solution.

Early-stage assessments indicate significant progress for participants. For example, of the 28 girls from the Jalazone Refugee Camp who were initially identified with behavioral issues, 22 girls have demonstrated enormous gains socially and behaviorally.

Children and adults are given a new space and method for expressing themselves, which has far-reaching implications in their social and personal lives. Capoeira teaches physical coordination, but also connection to and control over one’s own body, which is especially novel and important for girls and women in the conservative cultures found in the camps.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

In Palestine, we aim to be included in school curricula in the refugee camps and elsewhere. After training several Palestinians to themselves become social capoeira teachers and counselors, we will help launch several locally-run capoeira centers. We envision capoeira to be a focal point of communities, providing intergenerational meeting spaces for healthy expression and interaction. As a result, we anticipate healthier communities exhibiting enhanced life skills: more self-confidence, interpersonal acceptance, empowered females, and enhanced ability to handle difficult situations that are part of living in vulnerable communities.

Moreover, we project that we will be launching similar programs in 3-4 additional countries, for which we are already doing assessments and making contacts.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

From our pilot projects, we’ve learned that vulnerable communities generally have low levels of fitness and coordination, short attention spans, and learning disorders. As such, most initial class time is spent on focusing attention, working with others, and integrating group norms.

International volunteers usually come with a language barrier and other cultural dissonance. Frequent turnover of teachers is a logistical issue that also impacts the participants.

Building trusting relationships with local communities can take extensive amounts of time and investment to establish active, supportive partnerships with local leaders and organizations.

Finally, working in vulnerable communities can involve uncertainty, especially given the potential for aggression, violence, and war.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Develop an administrative base of operations

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Secure funding

Task 2

Setting up main office in London, and local office in Palestine

Task 3

Streamline and perfect documents, protocols, systems, templates

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Teaching 500 kids a week in Palestine (15 classes/week)

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Launch new website

Task 2

Solidify local partnerships (e.g., Palestinian Red Crescent Society)

Task 3

Identify 5 Palestinians and implement Training of Trainers class for them

Tell us about your partnerships

From the beginning, we’ve worked in conjunction with UNRWA in Palestinian refugee camps. The Ministry of Culture in the Brazilian Embassy has supported us through funding and visibility. We’ve just begun a partnership with the Palestinian Red Crescent. The International Rescue Committee funded our last project, and we’re working on potential projects with Save the Children, Unicef, and the MA’AN Development Center. Al-Quds University provides us with participants, venues, and advertising, and we’ve received counseling support from Doctors Without Borders and the Palestinian Counseling Center.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?

At the core of our mission is a recognition that we could go anywhere because the need is everywhere, and capoeira is very portable, adaptable, and universally beneficial. While we are in the process of developing our administrative base that will allow us to expand to other countries and communities, we have been making preliminary connections with people in several countries around the world. We have received interest and offers from India, Bangladesh, Libya, New Delhi, Kenya, the Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, Pakistan, and even the city of London.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Capoeira is inherently cost-effective and requires few tangible supplies to practice.

This summer, we will intentionally scale back our classes to commit adequate attention to administrative infrastructure development, in order to optimize current operations and prepare for expansion. We anticipate receiving core funding that will allow us to hire staff for 1-3 years, allowing us to invest sufficient preparation for all aspects of the program.

Overall, we are successful because we model the capoeira principles that it espouses, valuing community, communication, high standards, and fun.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Theoretically, we could start capoeira projects everywhere with any partners, from local communities, to international NGOs, or even to corporate staff. We will grow our network of volunteers who will be interested in supporting all kinds of social development projects, offering multiple talents beyond capoeira, such as business management, marketing, fundraising, media, and technical know-how.