Real World Idealists: Volunteer Search Helps Launch Brazilian NGO — and Sparks Romance

Fabio had a big idea for his small town in Bahia, Brazil. Sacia was looking to complement her travel plans with some short term volunteer work. One volunteer listing and a lot of hard work later, Sacia and Fabio are married (with two new bundles of joy) and that big idea is now a reality: The Tarcilia Evangelista de Andrade Educational-Cultural Association (AEC-TEA).


Photo courtesy Sacia and Fabio

Our hero and heroine

Fabio grew up in Capim Grosso, light-years away from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo. Nearly 10 years ago, wanting to increase local access to educational and cultural programming that he saw in bigger cities, Fabio set to work on what would become the AEC-TEA. He quickly realized though that without the major institutions of a big city, the group lacked the experts who could move forward with the type of programming that capimgrossenses had been cut off from.

Sacia, a native of Oregon, was planning a quick vacation to Brazil in 2003 and wanted to supplement her cultural experience by volunteering for a few months with a local nonprofit organization. After searching Idealist, she responded to an ad for volunteer English teachers. She arrived to find an organization still operating out of Fabio’s family’s garage. Over the first couple of months, she helped start the center’s first English language programs and decided that her vacation was over. She was going to stay.

And the rest is history

Working alongside Fabio for the past seven years, Sacia and nearly 100 other volunteers who have responded to AEC-TEAs calls for volunteers on Idealist have developed language and teacher training courses, volunteered with local schools, trained local youth leaders, helped construct a new building, and obtained grants from the Brazilian government to offer free theater and photography courses, as well as the community’s only movie theater.

Besides that, the initial Idealist listing was the launching point for Sacia and Fabio’s marriage. Who knew one volunteer ad could affect so greatly the history of two individuals and an entire community?

You, too, can live happily ever after!

  • If you work with an organization that could use the help of international volunteers, consider posting an opportunity on
  • New to the scene and looking to volunteer abroad (and potentially meet your future spouse (no promises)? Check out our resource center on international volunteerism.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Comments (1)

  1. […] jobs. But did you know you could do so much more, like ask each other questions and maybe even find love? Here’s how one person used Idealist to connect with nonprofits who share the same […]

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