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Capoerê by the Association Filhos de Bimba


Capoerê by the Association Filhos de Bimba


Beirut, Lebanon


Underprivileged young Lebanon people, girls living in an orphanage


Where we are now

Association Filhos de Bimba – Lebanon is working jointly with Fight For Peace (UK) on the organization’s strategic plan. So far they have done the following:

1- SWOT Analysis

2- Theory of Change

3- Association’s Pillars/Values

4- Development and design of new activities

Additionally, they have become members of Trust Law which will allow them to get advice on governance and organizational issues when needed.

They are also running classes in an orphanage attaining 40 young girls between the ages of 10 and 16. They applied to a grant by the Australian Embassy and submitted their project to two education Centres (1 in Beirut and 1 in the Bekaa area). If successful, the project will attain a total of 200 young Children.

What do we want to achieve

Sustainability in the programmes they offer. Down the line they would like to run capoeira classes in Underprivileged areas in Lebanon and open 1 capoeira centre in a community as well as form capoeira professors from the young people we will be working with.

What is the timeline for doing so?

Year 1: finalize theory of change, association’s pillars/values, programmes, short, medium, and long

Term objectives, and identify projects, opportunities, and donors.

Year 2-3: Develop the programme “Form a Capoeira Professor” (not final name), look for opportunities, develop the staff’s capacity, and identify the needs of the project based on the assessments. Identify a community where the centre can be based. Look into the social enterprise model and what it takes to move towards it.

Year 4-5: build the centre.


Association Filhos de Bimba – Lebanon has been working with young people in social projects since 2009, and since then has used Capoeira to work with over 500 underprivileged young children between the ages of 8 and 15 coming from Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.

In 2012 they were selected to be part of Fight for Peace’s Global Alumni programme (GAP web address), and are now part of a global network of 135 organisations who are all using boxing and martial arts to work with young people affected by violence. In 2016, the association received a 2 years funding from Himaya and UNICEF to work with more than 300 young people in refugee camps all over Lebanon. Unfortunately, the funding by UNICEF was cut before the end of the year and they could not complete the project.

They believe that young people need supportive spaces in which to explore their emotions and reactions, while learning how to interact with others. In our work, we use the art of Capoeira to create opportunities for young people to come together to:

  • Work towards a shared goal;
  • show respect for others;
  • Share space and equipment.

By creating a free happy environment in which young people can work on their ability to interact with others in a positive manner, they have seen dramatic changes in young people’s behaviours and attitudes, often after short periods of starting to practice capoeira with us. For example:

  • One of the students shared a “new feeling” she started to get after joining the capoeira sessions: “I felt happiness that is something I never felt before.”
  • One of the 13-year-old students used to hit her head in the wall whenever she got angry. This behaviour stopped after the sessions of Capoeira.
  • One of the students once surprised them with his demonstration of leadership skills and initiative, by bringing his friend to class and by proudly stating he has been teaching him Capoeira outside of class hours for months.


  • Free4Kids
  • Marginalised communities
  • Refugees


  • Staff: 3 people (2 trainers / 1 assistant and administrator)
  • They do not have a venues, currently they work in schools, centres, or Camps


Facebook: www.facebook.com/capoeiralebanon/
Instagram: @fbeclebano

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Meet Marwan, Changemaker fellow, Jordan

Marwan Ali Ghunaim, a self-proclaimed Capoeira evangelist, was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates and partly raised in Jordan. Marwan, who additionally has a Palestinian background, started his story with capoeira when he saw the sport on TV in Jordan over 20 years ago.

“I was impressed by what I saw and felt a deep desire to learn it! I had already been interested in both martial arts and dance and had done some taekwondo and break dancing in the past… so I thought what better way than to combine the two. Capoeira was it!”

Unfortunately for Marwan, there was no place that taught capoeira where he was living. However, in 2010, he was fortunate enough to meet and train with two capoeira gurus. One was Ms. Espolita, a capoeira master and healer and the second – Mr. Garnize, the founder of the Capoeira school CDO (Cordau de Oro) in Dubai.


Creating opportunities where there are none

From that point, Marwan’s passion and interest in capoeira continued to grow, which motivated him to establish the first ever capoeira group in Qatar in September 2013 with only a few members. The original members trained hard and the community that once was a few grew into a community of more than 200 people, participating in trainings and gatherings.

“Even after I left Qatar,” Marwan said, “I was so happy to see that the group remained active and continues to grow to this day.” Marwan recalls, “We once had a member of our group, Ahmed who was only able to train at the hotel where he was working, but was not allowed by the management to do so. Me and the other members did not think this was fair, so we rallied behind him and stood up for him. As a result, not only did the hotel management allow him to train, they offered to let the group train on the hotel premises. We were all very inspired by the outcome and grew closer because of it and capoeira played a big part.”

In 2014, he traveled to Bahia, Brazil for a month to study capoeira and understand more about the culture behind it. While in Brazil, he learned and trained in Capoeira Angola, the more conservative form of Capoeira, which focuses not only on the physical exercises but also on traditions, culture, values, unity, community cohesion, and resistance against injustice. He also met with many capoeira masters and developed a newfound appreciation for Capoeira and its culture. “The experience changed my life!”

Building connections, breaking down distrust

Upon his return to the Middle East, as a dedicated capoeira evangelist, Marwan created Capoeira United Middle East with the aim to bring capoeira players in the Middle East together.

“I wanted to promote the spirit and values of capoeira for unity and collaboration of diverse groups and peoples in the region.”, Marwan says. During this time, he worked closely with other organizations representing a range of areas including technology, education, and art. He received support from the Ministry of Education thanks to the program’s importance on the future of children’s education.

Marwan is also a passionate connector and networker. He was able to bring together 7 different capoeira schools in Dubai who had never communicated and who viewed each other with mistrust. “I envisioned creating a common platform for all the different groups to join as a common capoeira community.” He did this by first organizing a workshop for each teacher from the different schools to train.

“To my dismay”, Marwan says, “only 3 of 7 schools showed up. The second workshop though proved more successful and all 7 schools attended. To this day, the capoeira community continues to grow and thrive. I am so proud of this achievement!”

Marwan continues to bring together capoeira groups throughout the Middle East by convening events, workshops, and festivals. He is now aiming to invite capoeira schools in the Gulf and hopefully in a year or two have a regional capoeira event in Jordan. He also performs capoeira at public events and has participated in many performances throughout the world including those in Qatar, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Jordan, Spain, and Brazil, the birthplace of capoeira.


Making sense of losses

He also participated in a capoeira tournament in Azerbaijan where he won one round and lost another. “Despite having one win and one loss during this tournament, it taught me that Capoeira is not about winning and losing. Rather, it represents an art form to express oneself. I was so inspired by this realization and created a series of social events in Qatar called Mystic Earth that incorporated values taught within the Capoeira and promoted community building focusing on mind and body wellness and awareness.”

In 2015, Marwan first joined Capoeira4Refugees (C4R) to teach capoeira for refugees in Jordan where through teaching capoeira, he provided psychosocial support to vulnerable and traumatized refugee children. His first training opportunity took him to al-Azraq refugee camp in Jordan where he assisted Brazilian Capoeira Master Indio. “This was the first time I worked in a refugee camp and it made such a deep impact on me!” Marwan has since worked in other refugee camps to teach capoeira for C4R, including in the Za’atari refugee camp in July 2017. He also went to Irbid a local host community as a volunteer. He describes the amazing feeling he got seeing the children’s passion and excitement grow as they expressed themselves through capoeira and he aims to go back there soon and continue teaching them.


Is it magic or just capoeira?

Once a week, Marwan also trains mentally disabled children at the Nour Al-Barakah Garden in Amman, which was opened in 2012 by a group of mothers of teenagers with disabilities.

“Kids love and enjoy the classes, and I can see how confident these kids become as they develop their physical and mental abilities and how excited they are to learn and practice. This process hasn’t been easy for me though and I find it can sometimes be difficult to make progress and ensure that students are understanding the previous lessons, concepts, and movements. Nonetheless, I am so amazed by the progress and growth in the children in my classes. I recall one student who rarely spoke to anyone else before starting classes. After a few classes though, I saw him change and become much more engaged, active, and happy. This is the effect that capoeira can have!”

Marwan is the newest Awardee and Changemaker to join the C4R Changemaker Programme and is excited to further grow and develop his exciting capoeira projects as he continues his work as a capoeira evangelist.

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Makani ‘My Space’ Zaatri Camp

In Partnership with




Makani ‘My Space’


Makani Center, Za’atari Refugee Camp, District 8


The Makani Center in Za’atari refugee camp holds one of Relief International’s Innovation Labs, that aims to leverage the potential of youth in these uncertain and transitional circumstances. A selected group of 25 young males are encouraged to use social innovation within the camp environment to solve social issues, using Relief International’s resources.

These students are given a social capoeira class weekly that aims to foster a strong community of trust and teamwork. Using physical activity, games and capoeira conventions, this program encourages a safe space where these students can think for themselves and engage in a productive dialogue.


This two month project will begin to open students minds to new methods of critical thinking and to the connection between physical well-being and mental well-being. Using games, play, movements and music, these classes foster a positive energy that helps release stress, allow the students to focus on bodily movement and therefore reduce the impact of social expectations and pressures.

These students have quickly obtained a passion for capoeira, seeing it as a new way of thinking and recognising its benefits for self-confidence and teamwork.


#Refugee Camps



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Za’atari Refugee Camp, District 5

In Partnership with










Capoeira in the Peace Oasis


Za’atari Refugee Camp, District 5, Jordan


This project targets Syrian refugee children between the ages of 9 and 18 living in Za’atari refugee camp. Capoeira4refugees (C4R) uses social capoeira as a form of psychosocial support to these children, through their many years of expertise working with vulnerable youth.

Za’atari’s residents derive mainly from Syria’s Southwest Dara’a Governorate, which witnessed some of the worst of Syria’s civil war violence.


Using capoeira and its various elements of music, play and sport, C4R trainers focus on building a strong community amongst its students who share the knowledge capoeira provides but also share a safe space to express themselves. The classes incorporate social rodas which gives students the time and space to discuss opinions and thoughts about the classes as well as life in general.

“I learned from capoeira that you don’t get mad at each other when someone accidentally hits you. We need to have love between us before and after the class.”
(14 YO Male)

Since January, these students have made a great deal of progress in both capoeira and their emotional wellbeing. One girl arrives at the Peace Oasis an hour before the class every time, asking to practice her music. She began capoeira classes timid, but is now leading songs and demonstrating movements to her peers.

This program also empowers local Syrian facilitators who assist in the capoeira classes, giving them private training and attention with the aim that they will take over these classes one day.

“I like capoeira more than other sports because capoeira makes us stronger. The teachers [also] let us do silly movements and just scream. This makes me more relaxed and comfortable.”
(16 YO Female)


#Refugee Camps








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Azraq Refugee Camp Village 5

Project Partner










Capoeira4Refugees in partnership with NRC


Azraq Refugee Camp Village 5, NRC Youth Centre


Azraq refugee camp’s Village 5 district is one of the most restrictive camps lived in by Syrian refugees. These families are engulfed by barbed-wire topped fence that divides them from the rest of Azraq camp’s residents. Housing the most recent arrivals from Syria, these extra security restrictions isolate the residents from most activities. Village 5 youth have very little to occupy themselves with as they await their security clearance.

Capoeira classes have been held in NRC’s Youth Center for over five months, during which these young males have built a strong community and culture with their capoeira teammates, outside of their daily pressures.

“Capoeira is not about violence but peace, you play with and you don’t play against. You smile with your partner.” (18 YO Male)


Capoeira in NRC’s Youth Center has made huge strides in building a strong community of young males passionate about capoeira. About 25 regular participants train together, exercising and rapidly learning new movements, flips and dialogue inside the game. Capoeira4Refugee’s trainers provide direction and the positive energy of a capoeira ‘batteria’ (music) to which the students play, learn and encourage each other.

This project has worked on fostering a space where young adults experience something new, entering a new world and culture including the portuguese language, foreign instruments, and an understanding of a physical dialogue that teaches personal space and respect for one another.

“I think I will keep trying to be the leader. I will never let go of capoeira, even if the program ends. I will keep playing capoeira.” (22-year-old male)


#Refugee Camps
#Special Needs




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Meet Abed, Changemakers Fellow; Palestine

Despite military occupation and rising social tensions in Palestine, Abed defies the odds to find space for music, sport & play.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resulted in  unequal educational opportunities for many young people in the occupied areas. Unicef recently reported that nearly one in four children growing up in conflict zones around the world are out of school. Children who lack accesses to formal education opportunities have even less access to sports and extra-curricular activities. In light of these challenges, Abed decided to do something to support the youth in his community.

Abed’s social capoeira project started in May of 2014 when he was still working with Bidna Capoeira (now Capoeira4Refugees) in Bethany.

Residents of Bethany, one of the three Israeli-controlled administrative divisions in the West Bank, receive limited access to basic services. With support from a few donors, Abed started teaching capoeira to fill in the gap. Although funding for the project through Bidna Capoeira ended in August of 2015, Abed continues to devote his personal time and resources to keep the group going.

“In Palestine, we are still living under occupation. Bethany is surrounded by the wall. we overlook the wall at the centre Where we train. Many young kids can’t go out, and they are frustrated all the time. These challenges make them into troublemakers. But through capoeira, my students have finally found something that makes them active. Capoeira Helps them to become more confident. When you are confident, you are discipline and calm.” -Abed 

Working in Bethany has not been easy. According to a UN report, nearly 300,000 Palestinians are living in the area, and tensions have been high since last autumn due to disputes over access and land. As a result, Palestinian children lack a safe space to play.

“A lot of the time, no space is available, so we train in the street or on my house rooftop, “

Abed says.

Despite these challenges, Abed continues to fight to get a more permanent space for his students to practice capoeira.

“In my opinion, Capoeira is perfect for the kids in marginalized communities in Palestine,” Abed says. “It’s a group activity, which teaches them many life skills and values, including how to resolve conflict and accept differences.”

Abed also constantly strives to promote gender inclusivity in his classes. In the past, he has taught many girls classes in some of the most conservative areas in Palestine (such as Sur Baher Village, Bethany Girls Orphanage, and Shufat Refugee Camp). He is one of few male trainers allowed to work with girls, having earned the trust of many families. Abed has made it his personal mission to promote gender equality through music, sport and play. He has inspired and equipped his assistant, Amer (picture above second from the left), to start a boys and girls capoeira class in his own neighborhood.

Abed’s students huddle together for a cheer before ending capoeira class. This energy within the classroom allows them to momentarily escape from the stresses of occupation and keeps them going for the rest of the week. For Abed, becoming a Capoeira Changemakers Fellow means being able to offer children and youth continuous access to activities that they otherwise would not have access to.

One of Abed’s older students,

Paleto 18, says “capoeira is a sport that helps me to get away from drugs. There’s a major drug issue in this country. Before capoeira, I used to get angry and crash and break things. Now instead of doing that, I turn to capoeira. Capoeira is big enough and it frees me. We are under occupation and capoeira frees me.”

Abed explains: “I’m excited to use the programme to get my projects back up and running and to see the local children completely engaged in Capoeira, games and activities that teach peace, conflict resolution, selfesteem and more. Capoeira is perfect for the kids in marginalized  communities in Palestine. It’s a group activity, which teaches them many life skills and values, including how to resolve conflict and accept differences.”