Saturday, April 12, 2014

Introducing Dj Dembore

1.) What is your full name?
Dembore Alves Aredes da Silva 

2.) Where do you live? 
I live in the favela Rocinha in a area called Cachopa for 2 years and 3 months.

3.) How old are you?
I am 26 years old.

4.) Are you in school or work. Please explain a little about this.
I am not studying at the moment only working as a tour guide here in the community.
I also teach at Spin Rocinha our NGO that is supported by our tourism company Favela Adventures here in Rocinha. I teach the students Dj'ing skills.
I have also been Dj'ing part time in some of the clubs in Rio de Janeiro.

5.) What are your hobbies or things that you like to do when you are not working?
 I love to work with music (Dj), ride my BMX bike, surf and work out at the gym.

6.) When you are working as a guide here in Rocinha what is your idea that you want to show for the tourists?
Here when I am working as a guide I want to show the reality of favela life. Like how the government spends a lot of money on unnecessary things, but not on things the favela really needs.

 7.) What do you like most about being a guide here in Rocinha?
I really enjoy making new friends and showing the community where I live, contact with tourists and with the community. 

8.) What do you like about living in Rocinha?
The warmth of the people here, the vibe of the place and the simplicity of life of the people here.

9.) What don't you like about living in Rocinha?
Many things that our government needs to really resolve like garbage spread on the streets and the open sewers.

 10.) If you had a magic wand, what would you change about Rocinha? 
If I had the magic wand I would bring eternal peace and equality for all the residents of the community.

11.) What are your plans for your future? 
 My plans are to work a lot to have the power to but my house here in Rocinha. 
I want to continue Dj'ing as spread the love of music.

12.) Anything else that you would like to share with your readers?
I would like that those of you who are reading this can come and visit our poor community but at the same time its very rich. Do we have problems here? Sure. But also we have many wonderful things here too that I would like the world to see. If you come here I will like this because it shows you have an open mind. If not, I hope that you change your mind and visit one day. Thank you to those who are reading this blog!

Dembore Silva 


Sunday, March 23, 2014

2013 was a good year, now onto 2014+, Giving thanks!

The year 2013 was a breakout year for Favela Adventures, our tour company, our Dj School SPIN ROCINHA and much personal growth for me trying to hold all of this together. I am not a religious person at all. I do believe in cause and effect. The intentions we put out, we get back. Karma, I do believe in that! I have seen it work in my life. I don't pray, I act. In order to make things work or move, there needs to be action. The year 2013 for me was about action. I know as long as I stay in this same flow, 2014 will be even better. I was able to employee two full time guides and one part time in 2013. Hopefully in 2014 I can add another full time guide if the work presents itself. Most of our referrals, close to 70% were because of Trip Advisor and the rest were either word of mouth referrals or outright internet searches. We must be doing something right! I never thought success like this would feel so good. Success isn't measured in money, its measured in other ways. In 2013 we were able to buy our dream Dj Gear the 2000 Nexus series mixer and cdj players. Two years ago, I never would have imagined that our school would grow this fast or that we would have top end gear! I want to take time to thank those closest to me for a successful 2013 and hope that 2014 there will be more success to pass around. Hopefully we can continue on our path of helping more people in Rocinha.

Freddy- the friendly Dutch/Cape Verde guy who loves football and works as a part time Dj with Soundproviders our of Rotterdam. He first arrived in 2011 and came back to Rocinha because he missed the favela. He will be visiting family in Cape Verde but will return to Rocinha in April and will stay through to the World Cup. He worked part time for Favela Adventures but now he is in Cape Verde trying to set up some tourism opportunities there. He knows he always has a home here in Rocinha. He also runs a NGO called Sonvela which helps underprivileged children in Brasil and Cape Verde. Below a foto of Freddy dj'ing. Here is his webpage on facebook :

Vitoria- She has a great future in Fashion Design, drawing and anything else really that she wants to do. She works with us as a guide here in Rocinha. The sky is the limit for her. She speaks fluent English and loves working with the tourists. Where ever she ends up, she will be a success.

Elliot- the guy from Beverly Hills who took a chance on an idea. He left his comfortable life to come live in Rocinha and start a business that involves helping to find tourists places to stay in Rocinha and other favelas. I admire his willingness to take risks and trusting in me who encouraged him with his idea. If you need a place to stay for the World Cup, he is the guy to contact. I know he will be successful in anything he does. For more information about Elliot's work, check out the website:

Rita- Who I feel is like a sister to me. She loves Brazil and when she visits she stays in a favela. She has been instrumental in helping us acquire Dj equipment for our Dj School and recently brought the friendship bracelets for us to give to the people here. She is a film maker and is in the process of working on her project "Why Brazil?". She visits Rio about three times a year and always drops in for a visit. Here is Rita with Daniel Hoffman a man who loves the favela and who has organized a photography project for the kids in the favela.

Berit- the woman who finds her way through different parts of the world by helping those less fortunate. From Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook, she has been there to offer help. And its no different when she visits the favela. She has many friends here and each time gains more. When she comes to Rocinha, she brings suitcases full of donations for people here, toys, clothing, school supplies are most needed. I try to help coordinate who needs what. But most days she goes out walking through the favela connecting with people and trying to help in her way. For her sacrifice for us is much appreciated. Here's a photo of Berit with some of the kids in Rocinha.

Dembore- He's like my brother that I never had. Always supportive and understanding. He found me after seeing a poster about the Dj school at the bottom of the favela. After learning that he lived in the US and spoke English, I offered him a job in tourism and he hasn't turned back. He quit his other crappy job and came to work with me. Its been a good partnership. I only hope more opportunities open up for him in his Dj career.

So far 2014 looks bright with many projects in the future. We have a non profit from the US that is interested in exploring the ideas of Solar Energy here in the favela. Another contacted me about teaching construction workers proper building techniques. And we are currently trying to set up a workshop with some Dj's that work with the non profit "Bridges for Music". There so much to look forwards for 2014 and I cant wait to see how these opportunities develop. If you have any questions contact me at:

Monday, February 17, 2014

“Next to those in charge, those kids lying dead on the ground are as dangerous as clowns”

*****I am reposting this article that was written by a reporter Mariana Albanese, who lives in Vidigal Favela. I share so many of her ideas but I don't think I could have said it better! Her writing is in response to the changes in favelas (not only Vidigal) with the UPP (Police units). She has much to say and more people need to speak up. I have always had problems organizing my thoughts and putting on paper when it comes to issues like this. So, what I am going to do is write my ideas below her writings. My response to what she has written will be in italics and bold.

The photo you see with the police cars is today in my favela Rocinha. The other Photo was from about a week ago after police killed 9 people in the favela of Juramento.


The actions and the images are shocking, and yet they are celebrated on the BOPE Facebook page. The deaths of two soldiers were being vindicated and their honor washed with the blood of young black bodies that lie on the steps up to any favela in Rio de Janeiro.
--the stories goes that apparently the traffickers killed two police so the police/BOPE went into the favela and killed 9 people in retaliation. This is what we live with on a daily basis, that we could be killed just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This has happened and will continue to happen as long as the state reinforces this kind of vengeance.

The saying from Africa goes “The true story of the forest will only be known when the lion speaks.” A lioness, in this case: Mariana Albanese, a journalist and editor of Vidiga!, human rights activist and resident of Vidigal favela in Rio. Below she tells her story as someone who feels the direct effects and the contradictions of a security policy whose main missions are a cleanup and killing.– Douglas Belchoir
--favela people are seen as those who don't have value. Drug traffickers are not only youth in shorts and flip flops who live in favela, but those people in the rich areas who peddle their drugs to the upper classes. Drugs are a world problem, not only a favela problem. The rich hide their problem by buying people in high places to make their problems go away.

By Mariana Albanese, journalist and editor of Vidiga!

When I saw the news on TV about the death of a young police officer, Alda Castilho (22), in the Parque Proletário UPP (Pacifying Police Unit), I got a lump in my throat. One detail particularly struck me: she had been studying psychology in order to try to help the youngsters in the community as best she could. It hurt, as it reminded me of the policewomen in Vidigal, the Rio favela I moved to in 2011, eight months before the pacification there.

As with the majority of those officers who go to the UPPs, she was young, full of life and wanted to be truly involved in the community, as many of her colleagues do, teaching sports or music classes. They are responsible for community breakfasts. These police officers do not come from rich neighborhoods, they don’t earn a lot, and they certainly see something of their own childhood in the community’s youngsters. However, there was not much time for any sentiment. On the following day a hunt began which ended with nine people shot in the Morro do Juramento favela. Six youngsters killed, lying on a stairway that could be any of those in Vidigal, and the bodies that could be any of those youngsters that fill Vidigal’s alleyways with funk music and typical Carioca style.
--Its difficult to see who are good and who are corrupt when it comes to the police. We have suffered so much abuse and oppression from the majority of the police so it blurs the lines when it comes to who the good ones are. From what I have experienced, the police here don't have the proper training to know how to treat people in favelas. People here are already on guard when a cop stops them because of past experiences. I think everybody I know, including women, have had negative experiences with police. The scary time is when they are shooting indiscriminately and many innocents do die because of this.

The photo hurt, but the pain of seeing the posts on the Vidiga! Facebook page was even deeper. The typical phrases, repeated ad infinitum, appear: “Who cares about these kids?” or “a good criminal is a dead criminal.” First off, who knows who they were? Only later did the information come out: three of them had no criminal record, and three had records for minor crimes.
--this is the norm of what we hear everyday spread throughout the over 1020 favelas that exist in Rio. Nobody deserves to die for petty crime nor do 3 totally innocent lives need to be taken because some trigger happy "thought" the kid was a trafficker. Back to the indiscriminant shootings that go on inside of our favelas!

The paradox that I saw then was that if killing were to lead to peace then surely Rio de Janeiro would already be as crime-free as Stockholm. The strategy has to be changed, simple as that, because what we have now doesn’t work. Where could that change come from? On the sertão, the Brazilian backlands, Padre Cícero preached: “he who robbed, does not rob anymore. He who killed, does not kill anymore.” At no point in my life have I known of a wise person who preached peace through war. Nonetheless, biblical quotations are used to justify these contemporary decrees of death.
--these killings only promote more hate against the police. Nothing will change until the police forces and society stop treating favela people as if everybody is a criminal.

When I arrived in Vidigal there was (and there still is) the memory of the war, the battle between two factions between 2004 and 2006 that saw as its grand finale the BOPE [Military Police Special Operations Battalion] killing six people in a house they had invaded. The owner of the residence, lying on the ground under a police gun and seeing someone else about to be killed, tried to say that he was not a criminal. He was only saved when his dog came and licked him, proving he indeed lived there. He was saved, but he would have been killed because the BOPE does not make arrests; it only kills. It has always been the same approach: shoot, then afterwards find out who the victim was.
--This is the way BOPE are, they kill first and ask questions later and they don't seem to care if its an innocent person, nor does the government care. They were all over the favela today driving through with their guns pointed at everybody from the backs of their pick up trucks. They are not going to gain the support of the favela people with this aggressive stance towards everybody.

The possibility of change (of its own accord) was one of the few changes that the UPPs brought to Rio’s favelas: as armed trafficking got more complicated, many people saw an opportunity to leave that life behind. The life of a drug trafficking ‘soldier’ is generally short: they either die or get tired of it. It is almost impossible to stay in Vidigal for a while and not come across numerous folks who got tired of it and who are now plying an honest trade.
--I know many who have left the "life" and have honest jobs now.

You come across a number of these people who society calls monsters and wants dead, but who are now working exhausting jobs and then enjoying a barbeque at home with friends. One day, one of them came to me to vent. He told me that he had gone to the UPP captain’s room and said: “I’m out. But I’m only going to be out if you can assure me that you won’t be on my case all the time.” On that day he was inconsolable as there was a police officer continually threatening to confiscate his moto-taxi vest [required to work as a moto-taxi driver in Vidigal]. An intelligent man, he had been trying to organize everyone the drivers as a group. “I have to pay child support next weekend. They (traffickers) asked me to go back, but I won’t.”
--Its difficult when you live in a community where everybody for the most part respects you, no matter your position in life. It upsets me when people are hassled for no reason just because some cop is on a power trip. People have left the bad side should be encouraged to succeed not abused. The sad thing is this can happen to anyone. One of my friends witnessed a police stop a man about 60 years old and ask to search him. The man complied. He has to bags of fruits and vegetables. There was a table right next to the cop. Just to show his power, the cop took out every piece of fruit or vegetable and placed it ON THE GROUND, not the table that had space to place the fruits and vegetables, but the ground. This is the kind of harassment that favela people, even 60 year old guys, have to live with. And people wonder why we don't like the police. I saw another incident where a cop kicked a woman who appeared to be about 50 years old. What could that woman have said that was so awful that a cop wearing full battle gear with steel toed boots had to KICK her???? Again, its lack of education and training. The biggest example of abuse is when people go "missing" Since 2000 over 300 people in Rocinha have just "disappeared". The recent case was that of Amarildo de Souza, a construction worker. We in Rocinha are still asking, "Where is Amarildo?"  Apparently 25 cops were indicted in his torture and murder, but how much time in prison will these people actually serve, if any?

Knowing the whole context is vital in understanding the animosity towards the UPP. It is not just a good versus evil thing. Especially in the beginning, they hassled honest residents and imposed rules in the community that made life even more difficult than when “the other management” was in charge.
--So, true, we had so much more liberties when the "other management" was in control. Not that I support this, but its the truth!

There are the shifts. Shifts in character. People know that, depending on an officer’s intentions, good or bad, a party will be permitted, or not. Because, in addition to the violence that everyone has seen, there’s extreme social control over daily life. The philosophy of pacification is based on the principle that everyone is a suspect until proven otherwise. Therefore, popular gatherings are feared and restrained. The baile funk event is the first gathering to be banned, even when it is in a controlled environment with a legitimate sponsor. There are numerous cases when UPPs have stopped a children’s party or a group of people in a bar watching a game on a Sunday: in Alemão, shots have already been fired on this account.
--I will never understand how police could or would want to shut down a party, especially a children's birthday party. But yet, it happens. We have a DJ school here in the favela and three years ago I ran a party to promote our students in one of the club and the UPP's tried to extort money from me. They told me that If I didn't pay them, they would shut down the party. I said go ahead as its not like I'm making money off the party. It was to showcase the students, not to make money. In the end, they didn't shut it down. But, I didn't pay them either. We have gone through so many of this legislation of clubs and what parties can exist and whatnot. Under the "other management", none of this stuff happened. Its like we are not allowed to enjoy ourselves in OUR neighborhood. Again, its a power trip by the police!

The Security Secreatriat’s blessed resolution 013 (which no longer exists, but as there is nothing to substitute it we still see remnants of this offspring of the dictatorship) is only valid in the favelas and gives the UPP commander the final word: he can simply decide that you won’t celebrate your birthday. Because of this pressure and their track record in the favelas, actions against the Military Police are generally celebrated.
--true, people despise that they are not allowed to have a simple birthday party or watch a game of football at a bar without the cops wanting to stop it for no reason. We are reasonable people and understand that if there's a problem, and the police need to stop it, ok, but the police are not winning hearts and minds of the people by restricting their right to entertainment.

On December 13, 2012, the Vidigal UPP acted aggressively to limit the activities on a sports court, the only leisure space in the area. They were going to build their headquarters there, with a “hall that you can use!” Nobody wanted it, and we went to the court to stop the bulldozer, which was there without the authorization of the City Council, which owns the land. A confrontation began, and a Military Police officer who already disliked me hit me in the face, grabbed me by the hair, threw my cell phone to the ground (I was filming what was going on) and kicked it away. I was enraged, I tried to grab him, and was then arrested. When I returned to the favela many people came and told me stories of abuse and, mainly, congratulated me for having reacted against them. I had to go to my mother’s house, as each time I passed an alleyway some guy, sometimes drunk, would come up and hug me. It wasn’t that anybody wanted to attack me, they just thought of me as a heroine or something.
--I remember reading this story, all about power tripping cops. Again, a police officer needs to hit a woman in the face? Where are the communication skills these police are supposed to "learn" in their "training"? I read about police abuses in favelas on a daily basis. More reasons for residents to not support the UPP's.

And then I thought: for the favela, the police is not the solution and nor are the drug traffickers. Nothing has become substantially better in pacified communities. There are many varying tones of the favela. The location, the gangs, and the UPP command all vary. In each case, what people on the outside considered a freedom from evil in reality is a brutal social shock without preparation. Like having the ground pulled away from beneath your feet. It has nothing to do with salvation. You live in a certain way, under certain rules. Then the Shock Patrol arrives, and they impose their way. Two months later, a new command arrives, and other rules come into play.
--Very confusing for those of us who live in favelas.

In the beginning, everyone was afraid of being seen speaking with a police officer as the general consensus is that, in the end, they will leave and things are going to go back to how they were before. My opinion is that the UPP system does not solve any one of the roots of the problem; it is merely a form of social control.
--Its a form of oppression. What happened to the UPP Social that was to come in and help with social services? All talk, no action. The city of Rio believes more guns (of the cops) and less education.
They just opened up a police station just outside of Rocinha about 1 month ago but before it was a educational building for our youth to study and have opportunity to go to university. Again, more guns and oppression and less opportunity. No wonder people here are angry!

The favela kids don’t tend to know how a gun ended up in their hands. Did it come from across the border? From the army? And what about the drugs? How many plantations (drug growing places) are there in the favela? Look at the drug chiefs’ homes: any teenage TV soap actor has the same level of apartment.
--All this stuff comes from somewhere. Its not like 17 year old kids are breaking into military installations or cop stations and stealing war grade weapons. Somebody is selling it to them. The same goes with the drugs that are arriving from Columbia, Peru or Bolivia. There are people high up in government positions that allow this stuff in and of course they are profiting from it, big time!

Even Nem (from Rocinha), a well-known drug lord, told it straight: he paid half of what he earned on buying the government’s connivance. That is no secret at all, it’s in all the papers, and so I ask myself: why do these people keep on repeating, like mantras, the same phrases to do with “justice?” When I hear people saying that a good criminal is a dead criminal, I think about how manipulated they are. Favela communities don’t like criminals, just like Leblon does not like them. The favela resident can’t get a job and carries an undue infamy.
--Nem paid half of his drug sales profits to corrupt police. He used to make between 8-10 million reais a month. But he also had a payroll of about 700.
For people who live in favelas there is a prejudice if you go to look for a job and say you live in a favela. So many people lie or try to get an address outside. What a shame that we are judged by where we live, yet the city could not operate without us. If I was to make a phone call to all the favela people and tell them not to go to work tomorrow, this city would shut down!

Depending on the faction in power, life really is difficult. But those people are living inside of the problem, and have a more human view of it. In the favela the tendency is to be against the police’s actions, even if those killed were criminals. They were on the “wrong track,” but they are also Dona Maria’s kids and they played soccer with you from a young age. The favela resident does not like crime, but they don’t want to see their neighbor dead. They just want them to get out of that life.
--We need more educational programs, trade schools for our people, not more police guns!

When I arrived in Vidigal, I was scared of the traffickers and I was anxious for pacification to arrive. But, months later, I began thinking there was something deeply wrong with society and not with the favela, as I have never seen social organization as good as in the favela. There were no muggings; people could sleep with their door open. They controlled the traffic, the trash, and they truly cared about the community–it’s not just this currency to buy a strange connivance. They built sports courts, they paved the streets. In sum, it is much more complex than what people from the outside, or who take a tour, know.
--true, very complicated.

I remember one night when I was coming back from a party and I leaned up against a railing to look at the moon. I accidentally bumped into something, and someone said: “hey, that’s my stuff.” It was a trafficker on his watch and in his spot. I said sorry and explained what I was doing. He came over to me, put his elbow near mine and leaned there too, saying: “It’s a hell of a view, right? There is no better view in Vidigal. I spend the whole night here, admiring it.” I got even more confused after that: a “marginal,” “criminal” and “bum” who likes to philosophize and gaze out from the hill overlooking the sea.
--traffickers are human beings to and most that I have met and spoken to, would prefer honest work, but its not easy to find. They don't enjoy what they do with the threat of death hanging over their head every day. I sold drugs when I was in my 20's and I did it because I was able to earn money, that's all. Most traffickers in favelas are not rolling in cash driving SUV's with tinted windows and a bunch of girls on their arms. It's nothing like in the US how these guys are portrayed on tv. The average trafficker I knew was earning between 1000-1500 a month, certainly not riches and not quite enough to move out of the favela either.

Oh, if only this world was as simple as good and bad. What is the solution for this whole mess? We have to get to the source of the problem: if people don’t want a “bum” to assault their “sister or mother” (always the same examples used), then they need to call for a global security action plan. By catching the big criminals who control the drugs and arms trafficking, and who don’t tend to get blood on their hands, the havaiana-wearing youngsters in the favelas will stop dying in their hundreds. These kids are only the very tip of the iceberg. Nearby to those who are really in charge, these kids lying dead on the floor are about as dangerous as Patati and Patatá, a pair of famous clowns.
--agreed! As long as you have drug users, there will be drug traffickers.

The police needs to be demilitarized urgently. We don’t need to stop them altogether, of course, but the way they act needs to change, as do their working conditions and pay. The hatred of the police is not against one or other guy on duty on your street, but rather it is directed towards the institution of the police, as a whole, which is not credible at all.
--they did a survey in Rio and over 70% of the population does not trust the police. And its not only favela people, its middle class and rich too. That should say something.

At the same time, do what has to be done: truly make the favela a part of the city, with rights to sanitation, education and health. But, to be honest, I don’t think this is going to happen. Those who make legislation tend to have an interest in violence and poverty. We are entering a civil war that will go on for years. Street muggings today are not just a question of money. Violence has not gone down in places where poverty has decreased.
--Keep people poor and dumb and they are easier to control right? This is why favela people don't have access to better education. The system does not want to give it to them. They want 20% to run things and keep the other 80% under control, oppressive control.

This is a generation filled with hatred. It’s no longer about the little thief who goes up the hill with a stolen bag of handkerchiefs and documents and whose mother thinks the documents are for her to finally have identity papers [as told in the famous Chico Buarque song 'O Meu Guri'. It’s about the kid who’s going to beat up a rich son of a bitch who applauds the ideal world that Sherazade preaches. Against the “good” or “well-to-do man.” But that kid does not know why he is doing this. He only knows that there is hatred within.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Daniel Hoffman and the Photography project



I have known Daniel Hoffman for about three years. He contacted me about meeting and wanting to visit Rocinha, not for a tour, but just to meet me as we had been writing to each other online. We often write about issues in the news to each other regarding favelas and the future for us here in Rocinha. I knew he enjoyed photography and I thought of this idea of disposable cameras and kids. The idea is to have the kids take fotos of their lives. Rocinha and other favelas are very misunderstood places. Through Photography, these kids get to show through fotos, what their lives are like here. So, the idea was set.


We had explained the idea but how to do it? I told Daniel that he could use a fundraiser site like KICKSTARTER to raise money to buy the equipment needed so he would not have to spend all of his own money. So, he made a site and many donated. My challenge was finding the location. First, I contacted the library but they old us no. I contacted FABRICA VERDE and they welcomed the idea. We set two days to do this project. One day to distribute the cameras and the second day to have the cameras returned. After the cameras were returned, Daniel's plan is to develop the film, put it online and create a site where the world can see Rocinha through the eyes of residents! The majority were kids but 5 adults, including me took part.


I wanted you to hear from Daniel about this project, so I interviewed him. But first I want to thank Ana Paula, Cintia Porto and FABRICA VERDE for helping to facilitate this project!


Explain a little about who you are where you live? I am a husband, father and professor who lives in New Jersey. I am married to a wonderful woman who is as funny as she is smart and we have two boys who are already well traveled, very social and full of energy. My profession is to conduct research and teach at Rutgers University. I am a faculty member in the Department of Nutritional Sciences where my focus is on the long-term effects of poor growth on health in children living in developing countries.


How did you find Rocinha? Why do you keep returning to Rocinha? I first heard about Rocinha while conducting research in the shantytowns of Sao Paulo. About ten years later I was going from Rio to Barra. Upon exiting the Zuzu Angel Tunnel, I looked to my right and was awestruck as Rocinha seemed to explode before me. I felt an enormous wave of emotion as I wanted to stop and explore the maze of streets and houses and sensed the energy of the people who were walking around, but my taxi driver said I wouldn’t survive five minutes and wouldn’t stop. A few years later I made contact with Zezinho and I took the opportunity to visit Rocinha with my wife. We had a wonderful evening walking around and talking with Zezinho and I started to build a relationship with the community. It’s an addictive energy that I have been able to experience without any of the sensationalistic aspects that we read about in the news.


Why Rocinha (also explain a little about the motoboy project)? Before graduate school I worked as a professional phototographer with a stock agency in Washington, DC, but left that life for academics. However, I have never given up photography and have completed projects documenting the life of marginalized populations. Thus, I have a deep interest in documenting life as it is in Rocinha. Rocinha is a balanced community in that it is not poor, it is not full of crime, it’s a community that comes together in a very difficult setting. Yet, the people who are Rocinha are fantastic, you see it in the streets, homes, attitudes, and so on. During my first visit we took a motoboy uphill to Zezinho’s home and I gasped a bit as I saw my wife zoom off into the dark on the back of motorcycle driven by a guy I didn’t even know and I asked myself, “Am I, or both of us, insane and not thinking about our children?”. Still, I had complete trust and faith that the driver was not a scoundrel who would do something bad to her or us. As we drove off I became interested in the dynamics of the motoboys, both as a visual issue as well as the informal economy. It was a few years before I made it back to Rocinha as most of my work is in Sao Paulo. Alas, with some planning I returned to photograph the life of a motoboy and spent a few hours riding with a motoboy as he made he way around Rocinha. It quickly turned from a project on the dynamics of motion as you ride through the streets to one of an opportunity to see snippets of life in the street of Rocinha.


Can you explain the idea behind your project? The motoboy project developed into a self-published book and motivated me to bring photography to the children of Rocinha. Zezinho and I worked together to form a program where children would get a disposal camera for one day to take pictures of whatever they felt represented life in Rocinha. We are in the early stages of this program and hope to build the program into a community event. The basic idea of the project is to simply introduce children to the joys of photography as a means of bringing them to a new arena of communication as well as showing them how they can communicate with a larger audience through their photoblog. From this we hope to build community pride and maybe even have random photo shows of the children’s work. The possibilities are vast and we are just beginning this program, so there is a lot of work and planning ahead. We hope to continue the project for a long period and develop a book and showing of the photos taken by the children to build self-confidence and pride in Rocinha.


What does the world need to know about places like Rocinha? Having worked in number of these communities, I have heard from many people in Brazil and other countries about how people perceive “slums” or “favelas”. Many people believe that poverty isn’t the issue and point to the number of homes with cable television or cellphones and say that people in favelas are simply taking utilities for free and taking advantage of their situation to have material goods without doing anything for them. However, the reality is much more complicated, it isn’t an issue of poverty or education or corruption, it’s a matter of social justice. I think it is important for people who have never visited a place like Rocinha, to think first about who lives there, try to understand who they are and what their life is like. From what I have seen, between Sao Paulo and Rio, people are people and they are living their lives as many others do, worrying first about their families, second about their income, and third about their community. After this I think it is necessary for people to consider the origins of favelas and the reasons they still exist. Understanding favelas is complicated and it takes time and energy, but considering that a good proportion of people in Sao Paulo and Rio live in favelas, it’s absolutely essential if you wish to fully understand Brazil, especially if you are a citizen of Brazil.


What do you want to do in the future in regards to Rocinha? My main hope for the future of Rocinha is that it becomes safer for people who live there and that this can be done without the heavy armed influence of the police. Also, I hope that Rocinha continues to be a place where foreigner as well as Brazilians can learn about favelas, but not turn it into a gentrified tourist destination where people come to simply say that visited a favela. It’s about the people and the energy and there should not be a sacrifice of the humanity of Rocinha for improved conditions or global awareness.


To learn more about Daniel Hoffman's work check out his sites below:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Accidently deleted email

Somebody named CHARLOTTE sent me a email and I didn't get to open was deleted by accident...please email me again..thank you..

I Love Rocinha!


I have always liked being involved in community projects. We just finished a camera project with 26 youth here in Rocinha that I will write about in more detail later. I remember almost 1 year ago a girl came from the UK and brought these bracelets that said "ROCINHA" on them. She gave me about 150 to pass out to people here in the favela. People loved them so much that I thought of this idea to have some made up to give to people here.


Life in a favela is a challenge for many people here. I am not rich but wanted to give something small and with meaning especially to adults here. I do mostly participate in projects for kids and youth but rarely involve adults. I wanted this bracelet project to connect and be a self esteem builder for a portion of the community that many dismiss. We have many NGO' but 95% of them are for youth and children. So this idea by me was to approach adults and ask "Voce ama a Rocinha?"(Do you love Rocinha?), and if they said yes, I would give them a bracelet.


I contacted a good friend of mine Rita Michel from New York who was a big help in ordering the bracelets and bringing them here. In the United States the bracelets cost about 60 cents each. I looked around here in Brazil and companies wanted equal to 2 or 3 times that price, so Rita and I got to work. She ordered the bracelets and arrived here in Rocinha a week ago. I now have 900 bracelets to give out as I walk through the streets.


When I am not working, this is a good way to get to know people better, let them know about our work, the dj school and various projects we becoming involved in. I think I have given out about 80 so far. The bracelets are adult size so they would not really work for children. This is also a chance for people to stand up and be proud of living in this wonderful favela of Rocinha!


In February, I hope to receive more bracelets! This is going to be fun!


Monday, December 2, 2013

How do events like World Cup and the Olympics affect the favelas?


foto by Zac Fabiano


I often receive students who are writing papers for university. This is a email I just received. I think its easier if I put it here.


Dear lifeinrocinha,.... I just found your blog on Rocinha and I must say I was very impressed. It is nicely done and very informative. I am very thankful to you for writing it in English, because I can't speak Portuguese. (I read your blog entry on this topic and thought I'll tell you how helpful that was!) At my school we have to write an essay of about 2500-4000 words and I chose the favelas as my topic. My research question is "How do major sports events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics affect the favelas?". But I lack first hand information: I can't fly over to Brazil from where I live to personally interview the favelados. So I was wondering if you could answer a few of my questions, if you don't mind. I am sure you are very busy, but I would really be grateful if you could find the time to answer the following questions:


1. What are the current emotions in Rocinha (how do the people/you feel about the Olympics and the World Cup being hosted in Brazil)? -I think the general idea is most people here in Rocinha really don't care about the mega events (World Cup and Olympic Games). Most people here in the favela earn between 600-1000 reais a month, and with ticket prices averaging about 60 reais, there's really no way a person from here can afford to go. Its not just the ticket prices but also transport to get to and from the game and then if you want to buy drinks or food, there is more cost. So for one person it can cost including the ticket about 90 reais. I know I wont be going to any games as I like most favelados, will be working. We will watch the games here in our favela and cheer our team on but life continues and we need to work to survive. These games are for tourists, middle class and rich people. They are not for us! Our contribution to these mega events is that many of the construction workers building the stadiums are from favelas.


2. How do the preparations for the World Cup/Olympics affect your daily life? Do they harm the favelas? And if so: how? -The mega events on their own really doesn't affect my life. I know that in my favela there are some new projects being build. They are trying to improve some situations here. In Rocinha they plan to build this overhead cable car thing called a "teleferico" but most people here don't want it. We want basic sanitation and to have the many open sewers covered in the community. We also want better education and health services for our residents. Another thing that has affected every part of the city including the favela is increase in prices for things like rent and housing prices. There is a lot of speculation now. My old house where I used to rent, now the present owner wants to sell it for 100,000 reais, yet he bought the house for 40,000. Food is still very reasonably priced here but we have new stores from the outside moving in. Subway Sandwiches just arrived two months ago. Just waiting on when Domino's Pizza will arrive. I am not sure if this is good or bad?


I think everybody can agree that Rio de Janeiro doesn't have a great reputation when it comes to crime statistics. Because of this reputation the government of Rio has really had to take a close look at how to improve their reputation to attract foreign and local investment and attract tourists to come to these events. The favelas have always been in the media eye but for the wrong reason. When people say the word "favela", images of violence, murder and drug trafficking comes to mind. The media rarely talks about the 98% honest hard working people who live here who just earn little money. They focus on the negative.


With that, the government decided to create these special police units called UPP's (Pacifying Police Units) and install them in certain favelas. The purpose of these police is to take control over the area and flush out the drug dealers from the area. These UPP's would only be present in favelas close to tourist areas or locations holding the mega events. Right now approximately 38 favelas have been "pacified". To the outside world, this idea is refreshing as it presents the city as being safer. But to me, its all window dressing and the reality is quite different. The drug dealers still exist and are selling their drugs with corrupt police still getting their bribes to turn the other way. In Rocinha we have had more shootings and conflicts since the UPP's have been here. There have been 42 shootings inside the favela since the police have been here. Most of these police are young recruits who have probably never been inside a favela. These young police always have their hands on their guns "ready" for anything, while we walk by wondering what the big deal is. We in favelas support the laws and policing. What we don't support is corrupt police that say one thing and do another. The police say they want to get rid of drugs, yet business goes on a usual and they allow it. We don't like verbal threats, physical abuse and killings of residents (Amarildo de Souza case) because we may get in a argument or two over how police don't know how to treat us. Do you know that in the last 10 years over 200 residents in Rocinha have gone missing? Just up and disappeared? I just ignore the police and don't make eye contact with them. What OUR favela (and other favelas) need is LESS guns (police) and more education. Our young adults need trade schools if they cant enter university. We in favelas, make up approximately 1.9-2 million of the population of Rio, almost 30%. We are the service workers in the city. With out us, the city would not operate. We deserve better!


3. Are there any protests, because the favelados are being forced to move out of their houses? Is this also happening in Rocinha? -In Rocinha there have been no removals and I hope it stays that way. But other favelas that are close to where mega events are taking place are at risk for being removed. The protests in Rocinha have been more about Amarildo de Souza who has been missing since July 14th. There are police that have been charged with his torture and murder. He was a construction worker, family man, father of 6 children, and not involved in any illegal activity even though the police and media tried to say he was involved in selling drugs.


4. What is being done to help the favelados? Do they get relocated somewhere or are they just thrown out of their homes? -I'm not exactly sure, but apparently the government if they remove people, they offer them housing in another area of the city. People from favelas at risk of this have also protested and involve Amnesty International and other organization to help fight any removals.


5. Anything else you want to add? -I just want to see the stigma of favelas go away and see the city as together supporting each other. I love my favela very much and I don't plan on moving. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go..


Update: just now I found this article about two shootings that took place today. One was at 10:30am this morning the top of the hill in a area called Rua 1 (First street), the other around 3pm not far from my house in Cachopa. Further in the article they talk about gunfire in the favela last Wednesday after the Flamengo football win. Here is the link. Cut and paste the link and put it in your browser. Its in Portugues but if you cut and paste google translate, you can get the idea! So much for "Pacification"