Thursday, October 17, 2013

Freddy Gomes Working for Favela Adventures



- Can you tell me your name, where you are from? My name is Freddy Gomes, I'm 31 years old, and I'm from Holland. I speak English, Dutch and Portuguese.


- Why did you come to Brasil? I first came to Brasil in 2004, because I had family studying here. They invited me over, and I fell in love with Rio de Janeiro. I came to Brasil this time to live a different life, than the life we live in Holland. I wanted to experience life in a very different place.


- When you first arrived where did you live? During my first visits to Rio when I had family here, I stayed in the neighborhood of Tijuca, in the north zone of the city.


- How did you first find out about favelas? It was during my first visit that I found out about them. Tijuca is a middle class neighborhood, with a lot of favelas close by, so I used to see them everywhere.


- Why did you decide to come and move into a favela (Rocinha)? After coming to Rio for three times, I wanted my fourth time to be different. And because I was so interested in favelas, for me this was the perfect time to experience life in a favela.


- Before moving here what did you know about favelas? I've been to favelas before, but only for the baile funk parties. But there I saw some of the things that happen in favelas. Because I wanted to know more, I started to watch more movies and documentaries, and reading about favelas.


- Since living here, have your impressions of favelas changed much? It has not, because before coming here I knew what to expect. I did learn here that there are differences between favelas, and even within a favela, in terms of 'poverty'.


-What are you doing here in Rocinha? I'm here working for Favela Adventures, learning the business. It's great to give tours, and show people a place I love so much. I'm also working on football projects here, trying to support them through my own NGO called Sonvela.


- What do you like about living in the favela? I like the fact that the people here are proud to be a part of this community, even though many people say a favela is a bad place. I also like the spirit of people here, most people here love life, and they show it!


- What don’t you like? I don't like the fact that the government uses favelas and favela related projects just for their own benefit. The UPP installation in my opinion seems like a big 'cover up', especially after the things I've seen here... The cable car running in the Compexo do Alemao looks great on the outside, but for the resident there are things that have way more priority, like basic sanitary and education.


- If you had a magic wand and could change anything, what would you change about the favela? I would change the way people on the outside see favelas, and I would give the people in favelas even more power to change their lives.


- Has your experience been worthwhile? Yes it has, for me living here is a dream come true. Living in Holland I used to wonder all the time how it would be to live here, be accepted and even loved here...


- What advice would you give someone who wanted to move/stay here? Do your research! Before coming here, check out the movies, watch the documentaries, watch the news and read about life in favelas. If you come prepared, you will have the time of your life!


- I understand that this is your second time coming to Rocinha. Why did you come back to live here again? It is! When I left here in march 2011, I knew I had to return. I left so many great people behind, there was no question I was coming back. People here treated me so good, that even during my absence I felt being part of the community!


- Anything else you would like to comment about regarding life here? Rocinha is a great place to live a life that is very different from what we know in Europe or the U.S. Come and visit, you won't regret is!!