Saturday, September 16, 2017

ETF and Entrepreneurship Course



I cant remember how it started but Amber who works with EFT (Educate the Favela) contacted me about spreading the word of this free entrepreneurship course going to be held for Rocinha residents. We organized to meet at the top of the hill. I remember that it was a Thursday afternoon. The project was to start the following Tuesday. Not much time to promote but enough for me to spread it through all my facebook groups.

Owning your own business is a huge sense of pride for favela residents. Courses like this usually cost money but through several NGO's and Networking Groups, like Bazzah, this was going to be a reality for many here who want this opportunity.

The course runs 16 weeks every Tuesday Evening from 6:30pm until 9-9:30pm.
For those who finish the course, theres the opportunity to receive grant money to help them start their own business.

My role in all of this? I'm not really sure as I already have my own business that is doing very well. But I was invited and if I can offer my help in any way, I will. With 10 years of running Favela Adventures there have been highs and lows but it has been worth it. I have learned through trial and error in regards to creative marketing ideas and dealing with employees. I hope my experience I can share with others and along the way, I hope to learn as much as I can through this course.

I have told the organizers that I don't mind taking part and helping if needed but I do not want to be given grant money. This should go to people who are in the beginning stages and really need financial help to start their businesses. I feel honored that people value my input!



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Recycling Project in Rocinha



Most favelas have this challenge of how to deal with waste and garbage. The government tried to institute a idea of building a cable car here but the majority of residents didnt want this. The residents complained and rallied to have other more vital issues facing the community. The most important challenge for most favelas today, including Rocinha, is waste management and education. These go hand in hand. If we can educate the residents about proper garbage removal and recycling, Rocinha would be such a better place to live.

Finally two months ago I started to see these guys in green uniforms around the community and one of my neighbors works with the crew and was telling me about a new city government funded project being initiated in Rocinha. I thought, wow, this is what we need. Not only is it good for the environment but the workers can earn money from the companies that buy the recycling.

Today, I made a tour with a group who live in the US and work with waste management. One of my neighbors, 9 year old Alexandra, creates art that she sells which is made out of recycled materials, so this fit with the theme of this tour. The group bought 3 pieces of art work from Alexandra. This money earned helps to support Alexandra, her mother and her disabled older brother.


The visitors work on recycling mostly in hospitals in the Bay Area (San Francisco), but they wanted to see our new project. After eating a hearty lunch, we went by the recycling project so they could see how "De Olho no Lixo" operates.

Here, the workers wanted a photo with Laura and her friends from the US here in Rocinha checking out the recycling initiatives going on inside the community. Laura is in the middle of the photo giving a thumbs up for this project.

Some background on the project:

The goal of this recycling project is to develop a correct way to deal with waste management in the favelas of Rocinha, Roquete Pinto and Praia de Ramos. Today, the focus is on Rocinha.

As a result of the technical cooperation between the secretary of state for the Environment and Viva Rio Socio Ambiental, with support of the Association of Supermarkets in Rio, the "De Olho de Lixo" project develops the proper management of solid waste in Rocinha in order to minimize the negative impacts caused by garbage. We have problems in certain areas of Rocinha where people through garbage into the open sewers and when it rains heavily the sewers over flow. People can get sick and these conditions also can attract rats and other vermin.

"De Olho no Lixo" is trying to correct the ways of the past by educating people to recycle and not just throw garbage anywhere. We need everybody to get in line with these new ideas to help our community and improve health of many of the people, especially those who live close to the open sewers. They are the most vulnerable.

This project considers that in order to achieve effective results in the face of the current problems, the community needs to consider the Structural aspects (physical, operational and logistic infrastructure) promoting education and communication for the environment with the promotion of Art and Culture. In other words getting the residents involved and learning how recycling can also generate income.

Check out this youtube video for a better understanding of the whole project here



This project contracted and trained 30 socio-environmental agents, all residents of Rocinha to collect waste in the community. The materials collected will be used for educational workshops promoted by "De Olho no Lixo". This project aims to raise awareness and get residents in understanding that garbage can be transformed into art and this art can be sold. There are 2 projects within 
"De Olho no Lixo". Two free courses are developed and on going in Rocinha: Funk Verde and EcoModa.

In the first 12 months of operation, more than 450 tons of garbage was collected in several areas of Rocinha and Sao Conrado. The intention is to leave a legacy and continue this mind set of turning garbage into profit. The city governments plan is to also include classes in the schools teaching students about the value of recycling. 

RECYCLING COOPERATIVE - "Rocinha Recycles"

Inaugurated in July 2017, Rocinha found a perfect space to create this project. Its located next to an area called "Roupa Suja" (Dirty Clothes), and houses a recycling structure where all recycled materials start out, a building for the EcoModa and Funk Verde projects as well. The space before was degraded and filled with lots of trash. The project cleaned up the area and now has these projects running daily. Funk Verde makes music out of recycled cans, boxes or whatever else they can find. Ecomoda turns garbage into fashion. 

Getting the Community on Board

The cooperatives function is to perform the service of collecting of recyclable waste generated in the favela. The cooperative will work on a self management theme under the guidance of trained locals. They will help to educate the locals on separating waste in their homes and the workers in the coop will go door to door to collect only what is recyclable. The material will be taken to the headquarters at the bottom of Roupa Suja and will under go sorting. It will them be compressed wrapped up, weighed and stored on site for sale. All work will be accompanied by technical advisors. The materials arriving at the recycling center will be reused during the art and education workshops - EcoModa and Funk Verde. Musical Instruments, clothing and accessories are created from this material delivered by locals and merchants.

Unemployed because of the construction crisis in Rio, Jose Antonio Trajano, 33, leads the initiative and expects it will general lots of opportunity for the workers in Rocinha. "The ambition is to grow, to give to and improve the community. This project has given many opportunity to enter the job market." Trajano started the program last year when the NGO Viva Rio Socio-Ambiental paired with the Environmental Secretariat, and the State Environmental Institute to offer training and start the project in Rocinha.  

The worshops of EcoModa and Funk Verde promote culture next to the exit of the Zuzu Angel Tunnel. Over 36 meters of Aluminum tiles, a graffiti panel painted by Carlos Esquivel (aka "Acme"), portrays the work of the De olho no Lixo and other projects developed at the site.


Almir Franca, designer and coordinator of EcoModa says that recycling has opened alternative doors to the current model of production in the (fashion) industry. "We teach fashion for reuse, to encourage the production process. People see in the project the potential of entering the labor market by a means that in addition to being accessible, generates a return to the favela.


Almir Franca teaching participants how to be creative with recycled clothing.

Advertising in addition to the making of instruments, the Funk Verde has classes of drumming, guitar, flute and keyboard. Regina Cafe, the coordinator believes that regardless of training professional musicians, the initiative has other qualities: It fosters young people's contact with art and contributes to the dissemination of culture by the community.

Regina directing the participants of Funk Verde. Notice the recycled instruments.

According to Regina, theres a constant search to make the instruments sound close enough to the factory or professionally made ones. The variety of materials used is enormous. "Buckets, Barrels, Cans of paint, soda cans, aluminum caps. All sorts of materials that would otherwise be thrown in a dump causing pollution, we can use. To make 10 rattles, I need at least 800 cans. So, it's a big project. We take a lot of materials from nature."

Although the focus tends to be on youth, there are adults who are taking part. Housewife Miriam Silveira, 47, is one of the most dedicated students. Two years ago she resumed her studies, learned to read and write and is now learning guitar through the Funk Verde project. Check out this youtube video of Funk Verde's work here.


Cultural Education allows participants to become better people and keeps them out of trouble. I see a lot of hope with this project only growing once the word gets out!

If you have interest to volunteer with this great environmental and artistic project "De Olho no Lixo" in Rocinha, please contact us at: visitrocinha@gmail.com




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Monday, August 28, 2017

The angel who saves animals


These are some of Ruth's "family" at feeding time in her living room/kitchen area

Since I was 7 and received my first orange fluffy kitten, I was sold on pets and animals. As a child that young kitten followed me everywhere and was my best friend. Cats and dogs are domesticated and need us. They only give love and want to please. I have always preferred animals over many people. I have 3 cats and enjoy their tranquility and affection. Life can be crazy with stress, work, family and other things. Having a dog or cat is known to help de-stress after daily challenges. I don't think my life would be complete without helping animals in some way.

In Rocinha, there are many abandoned or homeless dogs and cats. Because of lack of education, people don't understand the importance of neutering and castrating their pets. Also because of macho culture many men think it's not right to "fix" their animals. But my question to these guys is who ends up caring for all the unwanted kittens and puppies? It's a big problem here.

I first met Ruth Silva about 8 months ago when I read a post online regarding a woman who needed help with her many animals. She was asking for help to buy medication for an animal in her care. I was looking for another project in Rocinha to help and this was perfect. I did some research and met Ruth to help her buy some cat food. Helping animals in Rocinha is important as many don't have the resources to help the homeless and abandoned animals.

Ruth lives in Dioneia with her husband and 54 cats and 7 dogs. These photos below show some of the pets in her care.



She runs an informal "shelter", out of her home for her family and the cats and dogs. She also had a childhood pet and fell in love with animals.


She always remembered having a dog or cats. She started caring for animals back in 1989. Ruth was born and raised in Rocinha and currently resides still in the house where she was born. She briefly moved out of Rocinha but always came back. She has no plans on leaving now as she is making big plans.


Where she lives in Dioneia is close to the woods and she has her 2 bedroom house and some open land next to the house. This open land they cleared and have started constructing the foundation for the building of the animals shelter.

Her goal is to within 6-8 months start building the shelter. The idea is to house the current "family" of pets she has now. She wants to build a second floor where it could serve as a pet "hotel", a place where for residents to leave their pets if the go on vacation or away. With the money she would earn with this, she could cover the costs of feeding the existing animals. I think this is a great idea. I want to see her able to create and live her dream of caring for these animals.

Her shelter would be the first of its kind in Rocinha and we really need something like this.

This photo shows the beginning foundation of what will be the animal shelter

Since January of 2017, I have helped paid for medicine, pay for vet services and bags of cat food to help her support the pets. I go to the pet store buy the food for her and then have her meet me so she can pick up the food. She has a motobike so she can transport these big bags easily.




With that many pets, I know she needs help. She is looking to creating a legal charity so should could get more help with her shelter and care. She has created a Facebook page for her project called Projeto Flor e Xavier that shows her work. I have explained to Ruth the importance of being transparent if you have a NGO. This means not only honesty but having donors able to see their contributions being put to use. It's great that when we buy a bag of cat food we know the animals are well fed. We know that her project is worthwhile in helping. Next step is for her to get her project registered by the city government.
Please go to her Facebook page and like it!


This photo is of Ruth with a receipt for the purchase of 117 bricks. I went to the construction store next to my house and I told them I wanted to spend 100 reais on bricks to help Ruth with the construction of the shelter. The construction store knows Ruth as she has bought many materials there before. So as our tours get busier, I want to be able to contribute more for her project but will still help when I can.

Anytime I give her money, she can be trusted that the money goes to her animals.


I recently met a woman who is living here in Rio who also wants to help Rita's project. She loves animals like Ruth does and I am going to set up a meeting. Maybe something can come of it.

Ruth needs help with the purchase of food for the dogs and cats. And access to a vet who can help her with reduced costs for castration and other necessities.

If you have interest to help Ruth, please contact me at visitrocinha@gmail.com
We can also organize visits if you would like to see Ruth's project.

Friday, July 14, 2017

A Friend Returns to Rocinha


Temperley Football Press Officer Dana with football coach Andre Souza

Many times I meet people who have interest in Rocinha. But very few actually fall in love with this place. I know I love it and have my reasons, but for those who haven't spent a lot of time here, I find it interesting. I want to find out what makes Rocinha a place that people return to with such interest.

Dana Hernandez from Banfield, Buenos Aires is one such person. So I decided to interview here to find out more.

Dana can you tell me a little about yourself?
Yes, I am 26 years old and I decided to return to Rocinha to investigate more about this community. I live in Buenos Aires and I work as a Journalist & Freelance Media Specialist. I also work in a woman's jail teaching Philosophy and Literature. But My passion is working with the 
Club Atletico Temperley Football Team (Facebook). 

Tell us more about the work you do in the women's jail?
I work in Unidade Federal de Mujeres de Ezeiza. I integrate a cooperative of cultural work in contexts of confinement. It's name "Elba" means at the edges walking.

How did you start in this work?
I have always been a big fan of Temperley Football Club (Website). My father was a fan and I grew up in this tradition but wanted to somehow work with the club. Football is very male dominated profession and when I started working with Temperley, I was writing small stories but nothing really important or they would have me write about other sports like volleyball. I don't think at first they took me seriously. So, I did menial jobs. After 3 years I think the club saw that I was capable and the offered me a job as their press officer. In the who football league out of 30 teams there are only 3 press officers that are women. I have now been involved with the organization for 5 years.

Did you play football as a youngster?
I never played seriously. I enjoy the game, but playing was mostly recreationally. 

How did you first find Rocinha?
I always had a fascination with real places. I had heard that Rocinha was the biggest favela and I wanted to know more. I searched through google about how to visit and found Favela Adventures. I liked their options for tours so me and my friend decided we would check it out.

What were your first impressions of Rocinha?
The visit to the favela was complete. Walking with Pedro, a resident, made it comfortable. He was a kind honest person. We met Zezinho who showed us his Dj School project too. So much good work being done here. I felt like the community shot "an arrow through my heart". I fell in love with the place.


"Something about Rocinha brought me back. I had to return to this place"- Dana

Why did you return?
I fell in love with Rocinha, I felt like I needed to know it better. The people were so friendly, the structure of life, everything just so interesting. I must be here and then I can find a way to help the favela. If I can find a way to help with football this would be great too!

What would you like to do here?
I would like to move here, live here. I want to make connections with football clubs. Working with kids, education and sports is very important. If kids are active, they will not get involved in trouble. In Temperley they have development teams for youth who are similar to the youth of favelas. I like working with at risk youth. 

We had the opportunity on Monday July 10th, to check out Andre Souza's football project and talk with him about the kids and development opportunities in football. When we arrived Andre was talking with his payers about the past weekend tournament that his under 15 and under 17 teams played in. So, we waited until the team started playing and then I was able to talk with him about my ideas. We also saw girls practicing as well with the other coach Vitor Alexandre. This was great to see. And there was a girl practicing with one of the teams. We need to see more girls playing sports.




Andre was very proud of his teams. He showed us photos and the trophies the teams had won. The under 15's won 2nd place and the under 17's took the championship. 


Andre Souza a proud coach of Under 15's and Under 17's in Rocinha

On Saturday July 15th, we went to visit the Flamengo Football Club. I know Rocinha is mostly Flamengo I thought it interesting to check out their club. 

 Dana with York, her friend at the entrance of the Flamengo Football Club

 Dana wearing her Temperley Club shirt at the entrance of Flamengo Museum

Of course Dana wanted to represent wearing the colors of Flamengo!

How long will you be staying in Rocinha?
I am going to stay for about 9 days at the bottom of the community in a guesthouse. 

What have you been doing so far while in Rocinha?
I have walked a lot throughout the community just checking out how big this place is. I enjoy observing people to gain a better understand of how people live. I went to Pizza Lit to check out a live band with some friends I met in Rocinha.

I love food so any chance I get to try new things, I do. This is Trapia Restaurant and its the best por kilo place I have eaten since being here. And its always great to eat with friends!



I am working about 4 hours a day in a daycare with children doing different types of activities with them. 




A volunteer who is staying in the guesthouse also invited me to check out an English school called Favela Phoenix that teaches locals English. 



We also hiked up Two Brothers Mountain.  I met Andre of one of the football clubs here and got to watch his teams practice. I want to write a story about Vitor and Andre Souza's project called Rampa Crianca do Futuro. The idea is to try to make a connection between projects from Rocinha and Temperley. I am staying busy while I am in Rocinha. Tonight I am going to visit the famous Flamengo Football Club.

I really enjoy getting around the favela by moto taxi too! 



One of the best views we went to was at the very top of Rocinha in "Laboriaux". We could see the christ statue, jockey club, lagoa, Ipanema beach and in the distance we could see sugar loaf mountain.



We walked further down the hill and went to this rooftop to see the view of the favela. Rocinha is so big!





Are you interested in returning to Rocinha in the future? And what are your plans?
Yes, of course I want to return. I want to go step by step, maybe stay 3-4 weeks. I want to participate in the community. Maybe teaching English, Spanish and Dance classes. The next time I return, I will speak better portuguese for sure. Learning about other projects here is also my interest. Anything working with kids is important.

What do you like about Rocinha?
All the shops, the structure, the activity and people. I enjoy eating and theres so many good places to eat here. I even had Sushi with my new friends.


Enjoying Sushi in favela of Rocinha with new friends at restaurant Sushi Yaki

If you could change anything about Rocinha, what would you do?
I would like to see better sanitation, remove the garbage. Creating more programs that can help elderly and disabled people.

And do you have any future goals or dreams?
I want to return to Rocinha. Work helping with social media for companies or small businesses that need help. Creating a bridge between the football clubs here in Rocinha and Temperley. The goal would be to raise enough money to send some Rocinha players to train with Temperley, creating interesting opportunities for youth through football. 

These were the last photos that I took before leaving Rocinha. I am going to miss this place and all the wonderful people I met here. Rocinha will always be in my heart! Thank you, Zezinho.





How can we find you?
Twitter: danaereys
Club Atletico Temperley

Saturday, July 1, 2017

City Favelas Tour



I often get visitors interested in learning more about favelas. Many students and researchers come to Brazil wanting to learn more about these communities, why and how they are able to exist. Most countries have areas where poor or low income people live but self built communities like favelas are not common in the western world. 

Because of this demand of interest, my friends Rick and Daniel thought of a plan. Contacts were made in several favelas to offer this kind of visit all in one day. Visitors will get to experience 4 different favelas in one day. Each has its own charm, vibe and characteristics. The guides that provide this opportunity are connected to these communities so we keep the mandate of using locals guides who have accurate knowledge of each community. 

These visits are a full walking experience through each favela. There will be the opportunity to meet locals, eat lunch, check out the awesome hillside views, interact with locals and visit unique locations within each favela community. This particular experience is a full day starting at 8:30am and ending off with dinner around 5:30pm in Rocinha, the last favela on the route. The last visit we made was from 9:00-6:30pm. So, this is an intense experience for those that want a true understanding of favela life and culture. Below are reviews and some photos of each favela community. Each place is in order of how the tour operates. In the following order:
Chacara do Ceu
Vidigal
Parque da Cidade
Rocinha
(*There may be options to visit other favelas depending on availability of guides)



1.) Chácara do Céu


One of Rio de Janeiro’s first favelas. The tour will take you up through the hillside favela via steps and residential alleyways. As a “favelinha” (small favela) Chácara do Céu is composed entirely of residential alleyways called ‘becos’. There is no commercial strip, but there are a handful of small shops that serve the residents’ needs for groceries and household supplies. The tour will take you through the labyrinth of colorful becos all the way to the panoramic views of the municipal park, Mirante do Leblon. You will have an opportunity to take photos in what is considered to be one of Rio’s most scenic points overlooking the neighborhoods of Leblon and Ipanema with clear views of the Christ Statute and of Rio’s picturesque mountain landscapes. On the descent the tour will stop at Chácara do Céu’s football field where adults and children frequently hold organized soccer games and barbecues. The approximate tour time is one hour. Chácara do Céu is ideal for weekend visits and tours which is when you are most likely to find residents making maximum use of the recreational spaces and community spaces that the favela has to offer.









2.) Vidigal Favela 

Vidigal overlooks the neighborhoods of Leblon and Ipanema beaches. It is located in the "Zona Sul" neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro between two high-end neighborhoods of Leblon and Sao Conrado. Vidigal is emblematic of Rio's challenging contrasts. With spectacular sea views and easy access to the Zona Sul beaches, Vidigal has been a thriving cultural center since the 1980's. With a little help from Brazilian oil company Petrobras the 'Nos dos Morro' (We of the Hill) theater group has grown into a major hub for aspiring actors from the favela. A number of students from the Nos dos Morro acting school have gone on to star in feature films and popular novelas, most notable of all being the internationally acclaimed City of God film. Leading up to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, Vidigal was "pacified" by Rio's newly formed UPP (Police Pacifying Union) which now maintain an active policing presence in the community. 

According to the 2010 official government census, Vidigal has a population of approximately 13,000 residents. However, Brazilian government population counts for favelas are notorious for their under counts. A visit to Vidigal will easily demonstrate that the community's population is in the tens of thousands and possibly exceeds 100,000 residents. The tour of Vidigal will take you to the top of the hill to visit some of the favela's newest and trendiest bar/restaurants including Mirante do Vidigal and Bar da Laje. On the way down the hill, the tour will make stops at Vidigal Vila Olimpica where the municipal government along with companies like Nike and Samsung sponsored the development of a multi-use outdoor recreational facility with a track, soccer field, and playground. The tour will also make stops at Vidigal's Ecological Park where local residents have turned local waste into a beautiful landscaped garden using a number of discarded items such as tires and appliances. The tour of Vidigal is approximately 2 hours in duration and provides visitors with plenty of photo opportunities and engagement with local residents.













3.) Parque da Cidade:

Located between the neighborhood of Gavea and the favela Rocinha, Parque da Cidade is another close-knit, small favela with little turnover in residency. The municipal park, Parque da Cidade, is adjacent to the favela which is how the favela acquired its name. With under 5,000 residents the favela is comprised of one central commercial strip and a labyrinth of residential alleyways (becos). During the tour, visitors will be able to walk through the very center of the favela’s commercial corridor and see the diversity of shops that cater to the residents’ needs: from barbershops, to clothing shops, cafes, and electronics, and more. The tour will take you through the residential alleyways to see the quaint and colorful homes, engage local residents, on the way to the ‘top of the hill’ where you can see remarkable views of the Gavea neighborhood and the famous Rio lagoon (lagoa). 

The visit includes a stop at a local residence rooftop (laje) at the very top of the community. On the descent the tour will walk through the adjacent actual parque da cidade, a large municipal park, for more photo opportunities and for experiencing Rio’s public parks. While in the park the tour will make a stop at the Museu da Cidade (Museum of the City) which has recently been renovated and is located inside of the park. The approximate tour time is one hour. Parque da Cidade favela and the high-end residential neighborhood of Gavea are in such close proximity that the locations seem to be part of each other. Perhaps nowhere else in Rio is the line between upper class neighborhood and favela so fused together as to seem to be one.












4.) Rocinha

Rocinha is considered the largest favela in Brazil with approximately 300,000 people residing in a space of 89,000 square meters of space. Rocinha is situated in a convenient location for the residents as its surrounded by two of the richest neighborhoods in Rio being Sao Conrado and Gavea. Many from Rocinha work in these noble areas doing any kind of domestic work including housekeepers, drivers, pool cleaners or gardeners. From the top of the community there will be photo opportunities.

After leaving Parque da Cidade community you will arrive about 10 minutes after to the top of Rocinha. The visit will include a full explanation in regards to the history of favelas, Rocinha and their role in Brazilian society. Also covered are subjects such as education, health care, transportation in the community, home ownership, electricity, water distribution and controls, the mail system, community activism and governance and of course problems within the community like sanitation, lack of leisure spaces for the residents and the drug trade.

You will have the chance to walk through 10 of the 26 sub neighborhoods of Rocinha. You will get to see the main street full of activity, the new development of street number 4, many of the tight alleyways where 90% of the population lives and the tour will descend walking through the commercial district where many of the over 6500 businesses thrive. The visit ends with a stop at Trapia, one of best places to eat in the community.

 The best views from the top of Rocinha
 Net Rocinha (legalized internet) working on updating cables in Rocinha 
 Paula Brito neighborhood and school (White and blue trim building)
 Visitors to Rocinha will get to meet locals like traffic director Caio. 
 A stop of at a local daycare is an option on this visit.
Everybody loves animals!
 Guests meeting "Rambo da Rocinha", a local celebrity.
Visitors playing football with the local kids.


 Walking through many of the tight alleyways is always of interest
 Alexandra a 10 year old girl who creates art with recycled materials
 One of our guests making friends with a local furry friend
Ending the tour at Trapia Social, our favorite 24 hour restaurant.

For more information about this tour or any others, please visit our website at:
http://www.favelatour.org or contact us at visitrocinha@gmail.com
or Whatsapp: +55-21-98221-5572