Saturday, July 31, 2010

Everyday life

Living in the largest slum in South America has its challenges. Life is very simple here. Water is one of those daily challenges. Here in Rocinha our water tanks on the roof are filled once a week. We have a pumping station at the top of Rua 1, which gets the water from the forest deep in the woods beyond Portao Vermelho, here in the favela. In the woods this water reserve is like a fresh spring and you can drink the water from there. Once the water is pumped through pipes, you cannot drink the water.

I watch how much water I use but I always have a back up. When it rains, I put buckets on the roof to collect the rainwater. I filter the water and put it in 2 litre bottles. I save this extra water for times when there is no water. I have saved about 30 bottles, about 60 litres. In the past, I have been without water, so conserving and saving is important.

When it rains its great as our resource builds up but for those who live high up the hill it can be dangerous. Some people who built shacks up under the tract of two brothers mountain did not think about erosion or building their houses into the rock. I read yesterday that 2 barracos (shacks) and a small bar were destroyed in the favela, becase of the recent rains. If it rains more than 3 days, there is always someone’s house damaged.
In April 3 lives were lost and 6 houses completely destroyed. This happens in many favela communities.

The streets here also flood and the water running down the hill could easily sweep a small child away to their death. Garbage is also taken down the hill. I once saw a refrigerator, a desk and a motorcycle helmet “swimming” downhill. The city clean up crews are used to this here in Rocinha as all the garbage meets at the bottom of the hill very close to the rich areas. So, of corse the city cleans it as soon as they can so the rich people do not complain.