The 128 palm trees on the main avenue of “Barbosa Rodrigues” are the emblem of the botanical garden of Rio de Janeiro. For many years, young people from disadvantaged social backgrounds have been making sure that the palm trees and the entire park can be enjoyed in all their splendour. These young people are given an opportunity to start their working lives as part of an apprenticeship programme that is supported by STIHL.
“My work at STIHL means a lot to me, especially the project providing apprenticeships for street kids in the botanical garden of Rio de Janeiro,” says Diego Rafael da Silva Pereira, who coordinates the company’s activities in the field of social responsibility at STIHL Brazil.
From environmental protection to football training
Diego Rafael da Silva Pereira worked as a process engineer at STIHL in Sâo Leopoldo for five years. He has now been working in environmental protection and occupational safety, where a new job was created, since early 2014. “It is important that companies assume responsibility and help to improve things in our country. Fulfilling this role at STIHL means a lot to me,” Diego Pereira says.
Diego Pereira’s tasks include supporting various environmental protection projects such as Pró-Mata, which aims to protect the Araucaria forest and which has been run by the University of Tübingen and the Catholic University of Porto Alegre since 1997. He also manages other initiatives at STIHL Brazil which benefit the employees. These include a doctor’s and dentist’s practice on the plant premises which provides treatment free of charge as well as weekly soccer training for employees’ children.
Perspectives through education
One very special project provides gardening apprenticeships in the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro for teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds. “Young people from very poor families are learning an occupation. Most of them had no idea what they wanted to do in the future. Now they have a genuine opportunity to work as a gardener, for example. During the apprenticeship, they are provided with a living allowance, accommodation, meals and clothing. We will continue the program and take on ten young people every year,” explains Diego Pereira.
Another positive effect of the project is that additional staff members are available for the Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro – all of them equipped with STIHL products. “Rio’s Botanical Garden is regarded as amongst the most important in the world. Thousands of species, some of them endangered, find space to live here. It’s even better when one can do two positive things at the same time.”