Sunday, March 13, 2011

Giving Thanks to Friends

I know I have been away for a while. Between moving and work, the blog has been put aside but I am back. There are so many projects that I am involved with that are either finished or are ongoing. I want to mention some people who recently have been of importance to me and to helping my comunity here in Rocinha.

The Back Pack Project

I met Jim about 8 months ago as we found each others blogs online. Jim is married to a Brazilian and lives in Niteroi. He has many years experience in fundraising. I can not remember how we eventually met, but I think it had to do over a controversy on blogs over the ethics of slum tours. Anyhow we eventually wrote and started talking about favelas and where I live. I told Jim that I was involved in a art school here and that I donate a portion of my income to the art school. In April of last year my favela suffered much damage due to flooding and landslides. Many houses were destroyed and 3 people died. Tio Lino's Art school that I support had damage to their roof. Half of the second floor collapsed....

Jim and I had a idea to raise money for the school for Christmas. The idea we came up for was buy school supplies for the children at Tio's school. Both Jim and I raised money through friends and through our facebook pages. I decided that I would contribute a portion of my income through the tours to this project. We decided to call it the "Backpack Project". We decided to buy string backpacks and fill them with school supplies. Many children here in the favela dont have the extra money for notebooks, pens, paints, erasures and other things needed for school. We were able to buy and stuff 40 backpacks for the kids. With some left over money we bought, glue, scissors, tape and a tape dispensor for Tio. I donated 200reais from my tours and In 6 weeks we were about to raise a total of 850reais. Not bad for 6 weeks..

After new years we set a day to go by the school and present the backpacks to the read the outcome, please read on Jim's Blog as I feel he explains it much better than I, and he took fotos of the event.
Go here:
If you need more information about this fundraising we did, please contact Jim at:


This idea came from my friend Ryan and I sitting on my rooftop in my old house over looking the favela. Ryan, a doctorate student was staying with me for two months doing research here in the favela. We were sitting and I was telling him how beautiful I thought the comunity was. I said "It would be cool if we could make a jigsaw puzzle of the favela". He agreed but we would need to find good quality fotos and a reason to do this.

I told Ryan about half of Tio's roof being destroyed by the rains. We both agreed that this would be a great idea to raise monet to help fix Tio's roof. So the plan is now in action and the puzzles are now available. I need to thank Tee Cardaci for designing the website. I need to thank Chen Siyuan for contributing some of the fotos. But I also need to nthank the supporters in this project, you who have purchased these puzzles. Ryan has also included the YMCA in Orange County as part of the project as a educational tool for the members. They are also setting up a pen pal exchange where kids from Rocinha can communicate with kids from California. To learn more about this contact Ryan at:
The website for the Puzzles is:

Freddy Gomes: For the Love of Rocinha

Freddy Gomes from the Netherlands contacted me about a year ago regarding his interest in favelas and especially Rocinha. He sent me many emails wanting information and researching about Rocinha. It was the only place he wanted to come to. Finally he set a date and told me that he was coming and needed a place to stay inside the favela. He wanted a favela experience. His background is from Cape Verde so he already had knowledge of Portuguese which would make it easier for him to assimilate here. He arrived and stayed with me for about 4 days and then I was able to find him a place.

Freddy is a unique person. There are very few who have the size of heart that this guy has. When he arrived he brought a huge suitcase of Art Supplies for Tio Lino's Art School. We had to count everything and record it becase Tio likes to keep lists of donations that come in the school. When people from the community ask about who is helping him, he has a ledger to prove that people like myself and Freddy are contributing. I like it as well becase then the favela knows that I am am using tourist money to help support his school. I like contributing as Rocinha has given me so much, including meeting people like Freddy.
Freddy not only gave these art supplies, he worked in the comunity volunteering with several football clubs in the favela. One in a poorer area of Roupa Suja and a girls program on Rua 1 (first street). Thank you Freddy for your contributions to Rocinha. I hope someday you contact Freddy about his favela experience his email is:

THE DJ PROJECT: Phi, Harry, Tess, Daren, Shon & Josef

All of the names I just mentioned are part of a big future project we are planning to unleash in June. I have been a Dj for many years and it has always been a dream to open a DJ school here in the favela. In June, Harry and possibly a few others are going to come to Rocinha to help me start this special project. At the bottom of the hill at the edge of the Via Apia, there is a project called "Pensando Juntos", which has a DJ class every friday afternoon but there is only one set of turntables and CD players. The monitors are old and many people have told me that there is more demand for a more regular set up. I want there to be a school that can have 20-30 students, not all at the same time, but a full time DJ school. Something that operates 5 days a week.

I have several DJ's on board here in the community and have many DJ's from other countries who want to help by visiting and having seminars or just teaching the odd class. Music is the soul of Brazil, especially here in the favelas. I have spoken to people here in the comunity and have 100% support. Finally something that I can put my heart and soul into. My gift to the favela I care about so much.

For more information about our project DJ please contact Phi at:
or Harry Hood at: