Life in the Baixão do Gato settlement, in the small town of Tuntum, in the interior of Maranhão, was very different from what people are used to in big cities. Without a road in the area, residents lived almost in isolation, needing to walk through the forest to take their children to school or even improvise hammocks to carry the sick to the nearest medical care.

What the more than 70 families couldn’t imagine, however, is that the engagement of three young people from the neighboring municipality of Presidente Dutra would have such an impact on the village. Jamily dos Santos, 18, Luiz Eduardo Carvalho and Isiane Lima, 19, were enchanted by the community’s history and decided to fight to transform those people’s lives.

It all started with the Recode project in partnership with Facebook, “360° Filmmakers – Virtual Reality for Impact”. The trio of students from the Maranhão State Institute of Education, Science and Technology (IEMA) discovered the settlement in a geography class on land reform and had no doubt that it would be the main plot of the documentary “Sons of the Earth”, which they would create using 360° filming technology, under the guidance of professor Marcone Freitas: “Even in the face of so many difficulties, they never gave up. Our willingness to help those people spoke louder than the difficulties of getting there, and we decided to produce the film,”says Isiane.

The students got to know the settlement during a class and decided to make the documentary.

Even with the success of the production, which won the IV National 360° Filmmakers Festival in the Northeast Region, the mission was still far from being accomplished. Through a politician from the region, they reached the governor of the state, Flávio Dino: “We went to São Luís to present the video and the story of that people. We talked about how poverty is still latent in Maranhão and we put the virtual reality equipment for the governor to watch the documentary. He was filled with tears”, describes Luiz Eduardo.

In addition to moving the governor, the young people left the Palácio dos Leões with a promise: the creation of an exit to facilitate the displacement of the citizens of Baixão do Gato. And that’s exactly what happened. The necessary works were carried out and, almost a year after the students’ first contact with the settlement, a local road was inaugurated. “I was extremely happy to have had the opportunity to use our voice to show the story of that people. When I saw that a lot was going to change, that everything would be easier for them, I was very impressed. They were ecstatic, unable to believe it”, emphasizes Jamily.

Now, life in the settlement is transformed. The agricultural products produced on-site can be easily transported by land. Even an artesian well was drilled, a situation that was previously considered utopian, since the machines could not reach there. All generated from the initiative of three young people, who proved the transformative power that technology possesses in the hands of a creative, empowered, and, above all, generous generation.

The film “Sons of the Land” is available for free at the