Friday, June 6, 2014

More Donations for Rocinha projects!

Yesterday, Friday, June 6th we received some guests from Mauldin, South Carolina. A small city of about 40,000 people neighboring larger city of Greenville. Our guests were Tom & Debbie Bannister  who came to spend a full day in Rocinha.

It was Jody's day to make a tour and around 12:30pm he texted me saying that guess, Tom & Debbie had 4 bags of school supplies. He asked me if I could meet him at the top of the hill to pick up these bags.  I took a new friend Suzanne not only to help me carry the bags but also show her a little more of the favela. Suzanne only arrived a day before so it was good for her to see our main street  and experience our public transit van system here.

We met Tom & Debbie and took the bags and told them we would meet them later at the DJ School Spin Rocinha. Suzanne and I went to eat then we arrived at the DJ School and started unpacking some of the donations. I always like to seperate materials for different projects. They brought so much that I only put what I could fit on the table. I wanted to put enough on the table but also be able to take a good photo of the supplies.

For the English school classes I seperate pens, pencils, notebooks, dictionaries. For the art class, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, paintbrushes and paints. For children or pre-schoolers its age appropriate books, crayons, puzzles. For the DJ or music school, CD's, pendrives and markers are necessary. As long as everybody receives something, Rocinha benefits!

My plan immediately is I wanted to write a blog post about these special people. They had read about out tour by searching online and saw the Pack for a Purpose logo on the site. They had explained that through many of their contacts through church, high school and college groups they were able to receive these donations from the community. Tom has worked with several different non profit agencies from the disabled to youth at risk programs. Debbie's favorite thing is art, she loves to make jewelry, paint and make digital art. She gave us beautiful examples of her work. Three framed digital pieces were given to myself, Suzanne and Jody. I also received an extra that I want to give to Dembore. During the tour Suzanne also met up with a boy in one of the alleyways and gave him one.

They also came with a special gift from their grand daughter Alexis "Oakley" Bannister. Oakley is a budding Music Producer at 16 years old. Her and her friends have put together a team to help produce and promote Oakley's music. Debbie handed me a manila envelope with several CD's inside and told me these were Oakley's music. This is a girl who also likes to work on the jeep with her dad, is part of the ROTC and has won safety awards in Robotics regional competitions. So, our DJ School was honored by her gift for us. Receiving her production  inspiration from Deadmau5 and Skrillex, we hope that she can visit us someday even if she becomes famous!

Tom & Debbie big hugs and thank you for thinking of ROCINHA!

Pretao Football Clube. Beach Football

We now have the opportunity to organize beach football games between locals and foreigners. I had time to stop and talk with my friend Marcos Barros about Pretao Futebol Clube. A group of guys from Rocinha had this idea to play football but invite foreigners as a cross cultural friendly get together through football. Pretao FC has been around a little more than 10 years and wants to continue to grow and attract more interest.
"I think its a awesome way for people to make friendships and learn about other cultures."  Marcos said.
So, every SATURDAY from 12 noon until about 2pm the guys gather on the beach to have a football friendly. Marcos added about the popularity of the event " After the football, everybody walks back to the favela and there's a local bar that we can hang out over food, beer and great conversation. I have so many international friends now and I am hoping to travel to Europe in August or September."

So, with our new connection what we want to offer is a tour of the favela beginning at the top of the community, slowly walking through explaining everything about how Rocinha operates. There's the opportunity to eat a lunch when we get to the bottom of the favela or grab a snack, play football then return for a meal and drinks. Each option is available.

Pretao FC has a slogan: Praia, Futebol, Cerveja, Amizade e RESPEITO! ( Beach, Football, Beer, Friendship & RESPECT!

SE IDENTIFICOU? Então venha participar, será MUITO BEM VINDO! (If you identify with this you will be much welcome to participate!)

Check it out on our website here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rocinha gets a painted! Grafitti Invasion!

When news reports tend to focus on the negative aspects of life in favelas, its refereshing to hear some good news once in a while. This past Sunday, June 1st, 2014 in Rocinha, under the organization of Wark a local famous artist opened up a grafitti opportunity for artists as far off as over 2 hours away from Rio to come and color the neighborhood. Wark was able to find the right spot and residents who were welcome to receive art on walls and houses.

Recently Rocinha has suffered incidents of violence between drug traffickers and police. There are certain areas of Rocinha where this is more likely to happen. Just a day before this grafitti artist reunion, there was a shooting and conflicts where one man was killed and two others were injured.

Throughout the day, a grafitti storm took over 2nd Street in Rocinha. "Rocinha Invites" brought together about 60 graffiti artists from the community and other areas of Rio with the objective to paint the streets, alleys, businesses and houses on 2nd Street.  But painting was only one of the missions of the event. There was a stage set up with MCs and B-boys & B-girls.

A few years back Wark brought together artists to paint behind an area that is now a huge cinic (UPA) for the community. This time again, Wark Graffiti with support from residents of Rocinha was able to bring together all these great  artists. I think that the idea was to bring joy, through art in an area of ​​high risk after the implementation of the UPP (Pacifying Police Units). For 2nd street this event was important to show strength in community considering the recent conflicts taken place.

While the artists painted, rappers rhymed without stopping. The hip hop style has always been joined with 4 aspects of the culture and in the favela its no different. With grafitti comes djing, MC's and B Boys & girls! They are part of the same movemet and it's all one thing. When a MC rhymes, the graffiti artist paints, the B-boys use the movements and the DJ spins the tunes. The DJ table with the participation of MC Marcio Souza with MC Oz rhymed several times. Even Zack George from the USA and founder of  "Roots Rio" took his turn on the mic to do a improvised flow with the crew stationed on to of the stage.

The event was not sponsored and had no financial support. This was a total coloboration of community and non community members tied to a love of the favela. This was a positive action taken by Wark who loves his community but the importance of bringing together people instead of territorial fights that often dictategrafitti in other parts of the world. The residents even offered food and drinks to the painters. Some were invited into people's homes to relax and eat. Rocinha is like this, a big friendly place! 

One of the women, Joan has been making grafitti for about 20 years was painting a house where nobody lived  and neighbors offered her food and if she needed the bathroom to clean up. You could see that it was because of the friendly atitude throughout this event that the artists were able to create some masterpieces. 
Kadinho, who lives on 2nd street was able to help Wark access wals, businesses and houses to paint. Kadinho is well known the the area. A few days before the event, he walked through 2nd street asking the locals if they wanted their areas painted. Wark was able to number certain areas so when the painters came, he has his clipboard all ready to show each artist their area to paint.

Wark is even thinking about other areas to paint in Rocinha that dont get much attention. Some of the poorer areas like Roupa Suja, Valao and Macega are places Wark things would benefit from grafitti. But for now, if you walk down 2nd street you will see walls that before looked lifeless now shine with color!

All Photos shown here were taken by me (Zezinho)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Kind people from USA, Rocinha Thanks You!

                                                     Duke visiting Spin Rocinha Dj School.

I was having a discussion with a person who has created a tourism collective here in Rocinha. We were discussing the benefits of tourism and what impact it can make on our community. I mentioned to him about the various foreigners who have made donations through our tours and he reacted in a way that was suprising. He seemed to devalue the idea of donations and instead thinking of only money. This upset me because I see value in ANYTHING that can help our community. Money is nice but its not everything. I have always advised people who visit poor communities to bring donations instead of giving money. Especially when it comes to organizations. Unfortunately many organizations worldwide are corrupt.

Fast forward, I receive an email from this man from the US saying he wants to stay in the favela, volunteer and also bring school supplies for some of the projects here. Of course I help him as much as I can by referring him to place a post on my facebook page "Estrangeiros na Rocinha". He puts up his post on facebook and Barbara Olivi who runs several great projects here for kids responded and wrote a nice letter with a power point presentation explaining the needs of her projects. School and arts supplies are the biggest things here for recreational activities for the children in Rocinha. I think any donations to projects here is of value and appreciated by the community.

So, Duke contacted me and said he was arriving the end of May to stay in Rocinha for a few weeks. He wanted to volunteer but was on restricted time. Also during the World Cup many projects are closed. Duke was able to organize through Office Depot a 200$ discount on any school/art supplies that he wanted to buy.
The store manager Mr. Kolby at the Office Depot Store in Gaithersburg, Maryland was the one that signed off on the big discount and Jean Max helped to facilitate the purchase of these supplies. Jean Max helped Duke to pick out the best and most budget friendly school supplies so as to get as many pencils, pens, crayons etc that he could. The favela of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro wants to thank Office Depot, Mr. Kolby, Jean Max and Duke for making this happen. Some of the supplies have been already distributed to Barbara Olivi's projects. I will deliver the supplies that I received after all the comotion from the World Cup is over.

  These fotos above are Jean Max from the Office Depot in Gaithersburgh Maryland, USA.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Meet Vitoria! Tour Guide, Fashion Designer & Artist!

Vitoria has been working with FAVELA ADVENTURES for a little more than 1 year. She has a great outlook on her life and people on the outside need to know that in our favela, we have some amazing people. So, please read about Vitoria!

1.) What is your full name?
Maria Vitória Flores dos Santos

2.) Where do you live? (Example: I live in Rocinha in a area called Cachopa)
I live in Rocinha, in na área called Boiadeiro

3.) How old are you?
I'm 17

4.) Are you in school or work. Please explain a little about this.
Yes, I’m school and I also work. I’m currently at the last year of high school, preparing for university, in which I wan to study Fashion Design and Marketing. I work as a tour guide here in Rocinha as well, I started around one year and a half ago. It’s been a wonderful experience, I’ve grown a lot as a person. I also do modeling jobs, and I sell the illustration I draw, I’m starting a new business with art.

5.) What are your hobbies or things that you like to do when you are not in school or working?
The thing I love to do the most when I have free time is to draw. Clothes, faces, places…anything that inspires me. I also love listening to music (mostly in English so I can improve vocabulary), hang out with friends, and watch movies.

6.) When you are working as a guide here in Rocinha what is your idea that you want to show for the tourists?
Being a tour guide is interesting for me because it’s an unique opportunity to show people the reality. Many people around the world have such a wrong idea about the place, thinking there’s people starving on the street, thinking that people are not polite or things like this. The most important thing is to show that we are just like any other people in the city. We are even more, we are special. Things you learn when you live here, you don’t learn anywhere else. I’m really thankful for all I’ve been through here, it’s a life school. I feel indescribable joy when I see that the tourists leave, back to their homelands, with a new idea of favelas and of Rio, with on open mind and heart. I love Rocinha!

7.) What do you like most about being a guide here in Rocinha?
Since I started working as a tour guide, I feel more responsibility on me. It’s not always easy to communicate and show your ideas. The most precious thing about being a tour guide here in Rocinha for me is the truth. The responsibility of telling the truth, telling accurate information is the key for a good work. I love to work in Favela Adventures for the fact that only people that live in Rocinha can work in the company, so it means that we’ve been here when all good and bad things happened. I love the fact that the community in the area where I live already recognizes me as a tour guide, and the feedback is very positive!

8.) What do you like about living in Rocinha?
I’m born and raised here in Rocinha, so I can’t really imagine myself living somewhere else in the city. Rocinha is a place where you have everything. And when I say everything, it really means everything! Supermarkets, clothes stores, bars, hair saloons, restaurants, gyms… You don’t need to go anywhere to have all you want (for cheaper prices!). Of course I don’t know everybody in the favela, cause we have around 300.000 people living here. However, my relationship with my neighbors is amazing. They know me since I was little, we are very close and friendly to each other, and it’s like this anywhere I go in here, people are not afraid to talk and be close to you, cause at the end of the day we are community.

9.) What don't you like about living in Rocinha?
One thing I don’t like about living here at the moment is the sanitary issues. We are such a huge favela, and really well structured one, but the trash and sewage problem really bothers me, because it’s basic. Trash collector, decent sewage, daily cleaning, these are all basic things every community needs, and the government doesn’t care for this.

10.) If you had a magic wand, what would you change about Rocinha?
At the moment, if I had a magic wand to change anything here in Rocinha, I’d change people’s self view. Something I see a lot here is people that don’t have enough self esteem, because they feel like they’re less important in the city for living in a favela. If I could, I’d make them see they’re important and that they matter, they can pursue their dreams in life, even with all the prejudice around.

11.) What are your plans for your future? 
My main goal for the future is to be successful doing what I love. I’m getting involved in many fashion projects, being the main designer for three fashion collections that will be launched in Berlin, Istanbul and Paris (you can see a little bit of my work in  I’m young, but very ambitious in life. Getting into as many projects as I can will help me reach my goal right now, which is getting a scholarship in an American Fashion University, called Kent State University, in Ohio. I want to have a good education in Fashion Design and Marketing so I can have my own brand in the future. This is really important for me for personal happiness, and also to be an example to people around me. I do want to live here in Brazil, and come back to Rocinha after I graduate, developing and investing in projects to help people see that if I can, they can!

12.) Anything else that you would like to share with your readers?
I’d just like to say that we all matter, and prejudice won’t take anybody anywhere. Come get to know Rocinha, it’ll surely be a great experience and will make you think about society and how things work. The love I feel for this place, even with all the problems, is huge. I love Rocinha!

Thursday, May 1, 2014


This is a project that I started about 6 months ago to help instill pride and love for this community.
 Yes, favelas have their problems that are obvious but there is so many good things here too and that is what I try to focus on. Favelas are places where real people live! 
I Love Rocinha!