Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Seana in Rocinha

Seana with one of the kids from Rocinha

Its rare when you meet somebody who truely has a love and passion for a place. I remember one of the lasts days before Seana had to leave and it was so sad. I know she did not want to leave Rocinha. As she says, Rocinha stole some of her heart. She fell in love with the place and people and this is not the first time I have heard this. And I know it will not be the last. I know if it came to it, she could easily live here. She made so many friends who ended up like family for her.

I first had contact with her a few years ago when she contacted me about coming to Rocinha for her school project. She was studying funk music from the favelas. I remember sending her some and her interest in Rocinha became stronger. The one day she sent me a email telling me she was coming. It was so nice to put a face to the emails. She is so sweet, kind and always has a smile on her face..

So, now she is RETURNING in the begining of June. So, I will see her again. I know she is soooo happy to be coming back and I look forwards to her return. But heres a interview I did with her. She is sharing her experiences of favela life.



- Can you tell me your name, where you are from?

My name is Seana. I am from Florida, U.S.A.

- Why did you come to Brasil?

I came to Brazil because I study Brazilian funk music from the favelas in Rio de Janeiro.

- When you arrived where did you live?

I wanted to stay in Rocinha my first trip to Brazil. But I had a difficult time finding housing there without knowing people there. When I arrived, I stayed in a woman’s apartment in Copacabana where a friend of mine was living.

- How did you find out about favelas?

I have studies the social relations that exist in the favelas in Rio for the last 6 years. I found out about them from studying about street children in Brazil.

- Why did you decide to move into a favela (Rocinha)?

I wanted to move to Rocinha because I study the music there and want to be as close as possible. I decided to move to Rocinha because I feel safer there than anywhere else in Brazil. There is a sense of community like I have never felt anywhere else. People are warm and welcoming.

- Before moving here what did you know about favelas?

I knew that the favelas are a place where drug traffickers control the communities and police invasions occur. I also knew that there is a lot more to favela life. 

- Since living here, have you impressions of favelas changed much?

They have not changed too much, since I tried to learn as much as possible in the years leading up to my first visit, but I never could have imagined the safety I felt while there or the carinho, or affection that I was shown by the people who live there.

- What do you like about living in the favela?

Everything. Rocinha is the kind of place that steals your heart. When I had to leave Rocinha, I would feel the physical absence, a love sickness perhaps, as if I had left someone behind who should be with me at all times. That feeling has never gone away. Even when I had to return to the U.S., my friends claimed that they lost a piece of me to Rocinha.

- What don’t you like?

There is nothing that I do not like about the favela. Life there is what it is. I feel like the benefits of living there outweigh things that might irritate some people. Water use that cuts the power, cold showers, or dog feces in the alleys. 

-If you had a magic wand and could change anything, what would you change about the favela?

I would change the amount of violence people suffer—the (police) raids, the strip searches, etc.

- Has your experience been worthwhile?

Absolutely. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to move/stay here?

Learn about the culture of the favela and learn to respect it. Being in a favela is not about having an exciting time living in a “dangerous,” “poor,” or “violent” community. It is not something to do to have a story to tell. I believe it is a place where people should live if they are knowledgeable about the culture and respect that exists in the community. They should be willing to learn about and participate in this culture in the same manner that a favela community member would.

- Would you come back to live here again?