This foto really has nothing to do with the questions but I saw these two and I thought why not? For some of these questions are serious and I had to really think. So have two adorable cats as a foto just helps for me to appreciate the simple things, the good things, like my two cats who love each other dearly. "Fuzzy" is the cat on the left and he is the oldest at 4 years old and his fluffy sister "Joy" to the right.
I receive many emails and people asking me questions about my favela life. I don't know of anybody else that writes a blog about their life in a favela. I think many don't like to talk about their life because they think nobody is interested. I started this blog because people were curious and little information about favelas is known other than what you hear in the media. So, I started this blog and I am happy I did. Many of you read my posts and then email me. Its nice to have people wanting to know what life is like.
Below is some questions that were recently sent to me, and I want to share them with you. I answered the best I could for the amount of time I had. Im sure I could have said more or gone into more detail, but then I would not be posting it now.
• How is it like to live there in the favela?
This is a very general question and I could probably write a book about living here. It can be chaotic and everywhere you go you see people. I love living here because there’s so much to do and so much activity. Rocinha is like an anthill. You can see people working, kids walking to school. There is a lot of traffic with cars, buses and motorbikes everywhere. We who live here are very fortunate because Rocinha has everything. We have over 6,000 different types of businesses here. We have 4 national banks, 2 radio stations, 1 monthly news paper, 3 forms of public transportation, 8 sushi restaurants. Rocinha really is a city of about 300,000 people packed into 190,000 sq meters of space. Sometimes the weather affects the electricity or internet connections. Many people now use internet. We only have internet here since 2002 so its still new for many people. People are always improving their houses to make them better and you can always hear construction work going on somewhere inside of here. And Rocinha is still growing.
• How would you describe your community?
Its amazing what the people do here. This place is organic, built by the hands of the people. So much creativity and even with all the problems we have, people still smile and there is a good vibe to this place. The amazing people inside this favela is what makes this place what it is! I enjoy when people in the favela get together to watch the football games or any sporting event. Today the Flamengo football team beat Vasco and so much happiness on the street!
• What do you have here that does not exist anywhere else?
A real sense of community. We all know each other. People say "hello" to you on the street. They stop and shake your hand. For me, I feel loved, needed, wanted and cared for and this is the only place that I feel this. I have lived in other places (not favelas) and I never felt such warmth of the people that I feel here. Rocinha is love!
• What annoys you the most?
That the government will not help us improve the social services here. They can spend billions on the World Cup to please investors and the rich, but how about the almost 2 million in Rio that live in favelas? We are the people who work in the service industry and make the city run. Without us, the city does not operate! We need some better system of waste management for the garbage. We need open sewers to be covered. Better education for our youth so they can have improved opportunities to go to university and get better jobs. It would be nice to see kids not getting into trafficking or other crimes. Its all about education! Brasil does not invest in its youth. What a waste especially in the favela where there are so many talented people. People deserve to live in dignity. We need a police that respects every citizen no matter the social class.
What does make you proud?
We are survivors. We experience a lot here. Life can be difficult but we have each other and we do help each other. Even with the challenges we still manage to keep going. The favela needs to continue to improve. And slowly inside the community we are making changes that we can. People start their own small businesses. They improve their houses. They problem solve with help of neighbors or community leaders.
• Would you like to live in another place? Why, could you explain?
No, I prefer to stay here and help by being one of those who is actively trying to improve things for people here. I cannot abandon this place. If I were to leave, where would I go? What would I do? Especially moving to a different place, I wouldn’t have friends. And being favelado outside the favela, life would be even more complicated for me. I see no reason to leave here.
• Do you think that the community is united or divided? (as if it had sub neighbourhoods?)
I don’t think we are divided in a bad way. In Rocinha we have about 25 sub neighborhoods within this large favela. I live in Cachopa and I have friends that live in Vila Verde, Rua 1, Roupa Suja, Via Apia, Boiadeiro, many areas. Every area is a little different. Some areas are more residential and where I live on the main street there are a lot of small businesses. As far as people themselves being divided, no.
• Do you feel safe, or do you fear living here?
Most of the time I do feel safe here. I walk through all areas of the favela and have no fears. The only time its dangerous is when the police and traffickers decide to start shooting at each other. But as for residents here, I don’t have fears of anybody here and there is no reason for me to fear anybody.
• What are the places that you find most safe? And those you are afraid of
going to? I am not afraid to go anywhere inside of here. I live here and many people know me. I am more afraid of certain neighborhoods outside the favela.