When Lucas Bitar, 19, heard about the selection process for the Recode program in partnership with the NGO Redes da Maré, in the Maré Complex, he knew he couldn’t miss the opportunity. Without working or studying, the young man needed support to believe in his own future again. As soon as he finished the course, he was able to pass a selection process for Young Apprentice, his first job registered in his work permit.

“When I finished high school, I fell into a deep depression because there was nothing for me to do. I lost several jobs because I didn’t know how to use a computer. I was a digital illiterate. This is the life of a person from the community: you finish a very weak education and then what? You don’t have dreams,” Lucas recounts. For him, to dream again about a better future, to realize the potential of technology and to value his own community were great results of his participation in the Recode program.

“Most of the things I learned were through technology. Our homes don’t have books. We have to stimulate critical thinking in these people. Recode did a lot of that with me and that’s what I want to do too. I discovered things about my community that I didn’t know. I discovered that there are many warrior, black and strong people like me here,” he celebrates.

With his self-esteem in place, Lucas has now also strengthened ties with his own Maré community and wants to help break stereotypes and prejudices associated with one of the largest slum complexes in Rio de Janeiro, where more than 130,000 people live. “I want to work to empower young black people in their culture. I want to be the person who speaks and represents Maré,” he says, adding that he plans to attend college for Social Sciences to pursue his studies and social activism.