Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Flooding: Problems In The Favela

As most people in the world know, about two weeks ago Rio de Janeiro had some of the worst flooding since the 1940’s. I read recently that about 245 people have died and about 160 are still missing. They are still searching for people. The majority if not all of those who died were from favela comunities. Very sad that we who live in these areas have this kind of thing happen. People live in favelas becase they do not have any other option. When you are poor or make little money, where can you live?

In Rocinha, we have a area called Laboriaux, named after the French family who first settled there in the 1920’s. Laboriaux is located up at the highest point of the favela. There are great views there where you can see almost all of Rio. During the flooding, this area suffered some damage. Six houses were lost to damage and two people (a elderly person and a child) ended up dying becase a house collapsed. Very sad.

Approximately 4.000 people live in Laboriaux and they have their own community government or residents association. The government of Rio wants to remove all the people who live in Laboriaux. People are really upset about this and there are meetings going on daily about what will happen to the people who live there. I think that removing the people is not right unless it can be proven 100% that their house is at risk to fall down the hill.

I have many friends who live in Laboriaux, Armando, Binho, Belo, Rick. I could go on. I know both Rick and Armando have been told that they have to move. And my friend Mike Batista also known as “Mike do Skate”. What will happen to him? He is one of my best friends. He is about 40 and sells beer in the favela at the baile funk parties. Interesting about him is he has no use of his legs and gets around Rocinha by skateboard. I saw him the other day and asked him about his house. He told me no problems. I hope so. I do not see where in Rocinha they could put the 4.000 from Laboriaux and I know many of those people have lived here 30-40 years.

So, I live in ponto 7 or 7 as it is called. It is about half way up the hill in Rocinha. I like my place but after the flooding and rains, I see my house has some problems. The wall in my bedroom and half of the living room has water damage from the rain. There is water in the wall. I do not know how it got there or where it is coming from. I spoke to one of my neighbors and she knew about it. I guess the people who lived here before told the neighbors. For me to find where the water is coming from, I would have to break the wall down. At this time, I do not have the money for this.

Since living here in this place for four months, I have been sick a lot with a cough. I had flu about 1 month ago and still have a cough. And still have some problems swallowing. I wonder if the mofo in the wall is making me sick.

A health worker happened to come by here today and registered me for the new clinic/hospital opening here in the favela. She took all my information, formal name, age, birthdate, address, CPF number etc. I told her about my condition and then she started talking about TB or Tuberculose. I do not know anything about TB and told her so. She handed me a small information book on TB. I asked her if the water and “mofo” in the wall could cause TB and she said possibly, so now I have some concern. I just do not want to be sick anymore.

I need to talk to the rental agency about this damage and potential sickness problems. With all this, I might have to move. I will talk and see if there are other places in the favela that are better for me. So the flooding has affected me in a different way yet I still may have to move. There are not many places to live here and it is very crowded. I love rocinha and if I could not find another place here, I would probably have to move to Vidigal.

Vidigal is another favela on the other side of Rocinha. I like Vidigal but it has several diferences. Vidigal is located on a steep hill and public transportation up and down the hill is not as good as Rocinha. There are not as many moto taxis and the community is not as active. Stores close early and there are few parties there. The only advantage to living there is if you can find a place high up the hill, you can have a great view of the beaches of Ipanema and Leblon.

I will try to find a resolve of this problem soon.