Sunday, October 15, 2017

Guerreiros do Corte Strike again!

Foto: Folha de Sao Paulo

The favela of Rocinha in the last 3 weeks has been going through a “war” like situation with 2 gangs of drug dealers fighting over territory to sell their drugs. The dealers have been active since the early 1980’s so this is nothing new. But outright shootings on a daily basis is not the norm in Rocinha. The last time a conflict like this happened was in 2004. So, for 13 years the favela existed in virtual peace with very few shootings or conflicts.

Now add the police and the military presence into the mix and now you have a bomb waiting to explode. This has affected the most vulnerable in the community- the residents who have nothing to do with this. Often you hear on the streets “This is not our war, it’s between them, we just happen to live here”.

Those most affected are the workers who end up trapped in their homes unable to leave without risking a bullet in their back. Everyone needs to work. Stories have circulated of residents losing jobs or being fired because they can’t get to work. Over 10,000 children in the community have not been able to go to school or daycare. Businesses in certain areas cannot open due to constant gunfire.
People wonder when it will all stop. When will stability in the favela arrive?

What the community needs is hope and positivity. No child, youth or adult should have to live in these conditions. So when the “Guerreiros do Corte” decided to hold their event today it was a breath of fresh air to see the community come together to help those less fortunate who have struggled through these difficult times. 

Regardless of the still existing tensions in the favela, 4 young people decided to run an event. Their event was called “TONELADA”. 

The 4 young men responsible for putting this together were, Rômulo Saad, 22, Igor Barreto, 26, Roger Borges, 23 and Julio Dias, 15. Amazing what these young men have done.

The idea is to collect 1 ton of food to distribute later to the more needy parts of the favela. The significance was to offer haircuts in exchange for people to bring 1 kilogram of non-perishable food. In exchange the person would get a free hair cut. 

They had white T-Shirts with their event name to distinguish the over 30 barbers from the “clients”. 

This is their 6th social action project that they have organized. This time they added a few women stylists and nail professionals to cater to the ladies. This is also a great marketing tool for these barbers and hair care professionals to promote their work and gain most customers.

They held the event at Emocoes, a warehouse type place that usually hosts huge Funk, Pagode and Forro parties of about 2000 people.

There were dj’s spinning the latest tunes and a live band. 

Young children had access to a trampoline, a mechanical bull and other activities. Hot dogs and soda were also provided for free. Local businesses in Rocinha helped to sponsor the event.

The barbers were ages 16 to about 35 years old. Most were locals from Rocinha but I spoke to a few who came by bus 2 hours from the Baixada Fluminense. Most of the barbers’ clients were young men or youth. 

The hairstylists for the women had a choice of hair, nails or eyebrow shaping. While the people were getting their treatments, the young children were off playing in the areas with the trampoline and received toys that were donated.

The 4 young men responsible for putting this together were, Rômulo Saad, 22, 
Igor Barreto, 26, Roger Borges, 23 and Julio Dias, 15. Amazing what these young men have done.

“This is a way of bringing the community together “ says Romulo Saad.

“We had a difficult childhood and understand how hard it is for kids in the favela.” Says Igor Barreto

“What we are doing is showing by example to keep boys from going down the wrong path in life.” Roger Borges commented

“It’s a big community party” says Mascot Julio Dias.

These 4 youth form the Guerreiros do Corte or Warrior Haircutters, from Rocinha, which is printed on their shirts for this event. The 4 sought out this profession as a way to stay away from the fate of many young men growing up in favelas who get involved in the drug trade.

They all met at different times at Bravos Salon a family barbershop on Street number 1 at the top of Rocinha.

Romulo Saad began his training at 18 when he left Duque de Caxias and came to Rocinha to live with his father.  As soon as he arrived he contacted the Bravos 
Salon looking for an opportunity. He wanted a better life and thought Rocinha, 
with its population of almost 300,000 could offer him better job success.

Igor Barreto was born and raised in Rocinha. His girlfriend encouraged him to 
become a barber because he already showed a certain talent when he cut his 
father-in-laws hair. He got a job at the shop where friendships were made that 
resulted in this project being born.

Roger Borges, the “genius” of the group, at the age of 17 was given an ultimatum by his mother to get a job to support his newly pregnant wife. Now he owns his own house and is expecting his second child.

Julio Dias or “mascot” is living with his mother and grandmother and is is high school. In his off time has opened up his own place inside his house. He got started practicing on his young cousins. And did some apprentice type work at the barbershop under the guidance of the more experienced barbers.

The 3 have their own barbershop on Street number 1. Mascot is still in training 
so he doesn’t cut professionally yet. And he is still a minor. The shop opens in 
the afternoon and stays open until about midnight.

Each earn their own money and can earn up to 2,000 reais a month. The 3 are 
popular and word has gotten out in the community about these young go getters. 
The owner of a tattoo studio drew pictures of the to put in the shop as a promotion for their business.

The three chose to get tattoos with references to their profession.  Borges tattooed a hair machine, razors and “GDC” (Guerreiros do Corte). Barretos paid homage to his grandfather by having his initials flanked by scissors. Saad honored a friend who lost his life through crime.  His friend encouraged him to keep with his job. He said “Go work, get your life”.

A haircut in Rocinha costs between 15-18 reais. Through TONELADA, the residents with their food contribution pay between 3-5 reais, which is about the cost of one kilo of rice or beans. At the end of this event, the group hopes that their actions will inspire others to become barbers or will motivate others to seek out a positive path in their lives.

Here are some of the "warriors" at work! 

UPDATE: Below are some fotos of the residents who benefitted from the food that was collected through donations. We have people here in the favela that are in need of this food. This is how the community helps each other. So proud to see this social action here in Rocinha.

Congrats to everyone that contributed to make this a successful event.