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