Porto Alegre, capital of Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, was once a run-of-the-mill, dirty, Brazilian port city. But an amazing transformation has taken place: unemployment has fallen, public transportation is now excellent, and poor neighborhoods have improved dramatically. These changes are thanks to a process of direct democracy known as the 'Participatory Budget' scheme that's giving all Porte Alegre's citizens a say in how their city is run. The scheme devotes the bulk of the city's financial resources to renewing the infrastructure of the town's slum areas and improving living standards for its neediest residents. As a result, exceptional neighborhood leaders have sprung up. This program from the City Life series traces the experiences of two such women, both born in poor slum areas, who have risen to make a difference in the community.
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