October 15, 2020 - “I never imagined that a girl born to such young parents and raised in a low-income community could find herself walking down the runway for one of the world’s top fashion houses,” said Natiele Alves, 25, describing her experience with Dolce & Gabbana in Milan, Italy. “I was very proud and grateful to everyone who believed in me.” Natiele has modeled at major Brazilian fashion events, as well as international events in the United States, Germany, France, South Africa and other countries.
From 2009 to 2011, Natiele was a participant in the initiatives of Árvore da Vida. The program was launched by FCA in 2004 to help improve the quality of life for youth living in Jardim Teresópolis, a community located near its assembly plant in Betim, Brazil, through a range of social, sports, educational and training initiatives. In 2017, the program became an Institute managed by the community itself and is now called Instituto Árvore da Vida (IAV). Over the past 15 years, more than 22,000 people have benefited from Árvore da Vida’s many initiatives.
Opportunity, Empowerment and Self-Esteem
It was through singing lessons and workshops organized by Árvore da Vida that Natiele believes she developed the self-confidence that is so important for her career. “Before joining the choir, I was very shy, I didn’t think I was pretty and I couldn’t communicate very well. It was by participating in the group, interacting with many people and giving presentations, that I learned to express myself more”, she says.
Natiele is one of three protagonists in a web-series that commemorates the 15th anniversary of Árvore da Vida. The other two are Douglas Rodrigues da Silva, 14, and Laiza Gonçalves Serpa, 15, who also have success stories to tell. Douglas in music and Laiza in athletics.
“Participating in Árvore da Vida was very important to me because it made me think about my role in the community and helped me realize that there are other possibilities,” Douglas says. He was always interested in music and to learn the piano, he downloaded a piano on his mobile since he didn’t have one of his own. He practiced several hours a day. “People from Árvore da Vida visited our class and told us they were auditioning for the choir. I started attending practice and studying. It helped me understand more about music, including the technical side,” he says.