Friday, November 15, 2013

Questions from a teacher in New Jersey, USA


The last four Photos in the sequence were taken by Miranda Patrucic


How does poverty in the favelas affect you or your neighborhood?--- Poverty is relative depending on where you live on the planet. Nobody in my favela is starving or dying. People struggle and have it tough because of lack of opportunities and institutionalized stigmas against favela residents. People from favelas often lie and don't tell where they live for fear of discrimination. This is sad because what do we teach our children when we lie. We teach them that there is shame because of the place we live. Favelas were hand built by the residents from those communities. We don't wait for government to help us. We do what we can with what we have. All we ask is to have the same rights and opportunities that any Brazilian citizen has!


Do you think the situation is getting better or worse?--- The police are here but no real improvement of public services. We still have the trash dumps that spill into the streets. You would think that if the country can spend 30 billion on sports stadiums for the world cup that they should be able to help with basic sanitation. We still have open sewers that run through parts of the favela. We need more schools with decent quality for our children and we need trade schools to teach young adults and provide opportunities to get into the workforce and earn good wages. How can somebody who earns minimum wage of 600 reais a month ever move out of a favela? You can not at that wage! We need more education and less guns (police)! (See the last four fotos which show the garbage and open sewers in the favela)


How would better security help you and your family?--- Security is relative. I have never felt fear living here. There are at times dangerous situations but I have never really felt scared. I have more fear outside the favela. Inside here we have rules. You break the rules, you pay, depending on the crime like rape or killing someone, you can die. The problem is we live in a country with a lot of corruption and where the life of a favelado does not have value the same as those who don't live in favelas. My ideal security would be a fair, respectful and honest police to every citizen. Most favelados are honest hard working people who just earn less money. We live here because there is no other option for us.


Have you ever thought about moving?--- No, My life is here, my friends are here. If I move, where do I go? I then need to start again to build a foundation of associates and friends. Even if I move, I will always be a favelado. Will the outside world accept me? I don't know. I love living here for the good things. The good things outweigh the bad. Its not the poorly built houses here, its the people who live here who make Rocinha a good place to live. In Rocinha we have everything, why would I want to leave?


What daily struggles do you think people in the favelas face?--- The first is quality education for children and youth. With education comes knowledge to help change or improve your living situation. Basic sanitation is a big one, nobody likes to pass the garbage dumps and see rats running around. Sometimes we go without water. Where I live I have a tank on my roof of 1000 liters that is refilled once a week. Sometimes, it doesn't get filled which means we go without until it gets filled. This past July, I went without water in my house for 15 days! The biggest complaint I have is just being treated with respect. Outsiders (Brazilians) treat us like we are slaves, drug dealers or some kind of criminals. Every social class has its crimes.


Do you feel safe in your neighborhood? Would you like better security in Rio?--- I feel safe in Rocinha. I think tourist places need better security and places like Lapa need police that will reinforce the laws. In Lapa I always hear of tourists getting pickpocketed or robbed.


How do people in the favelas support their families?--- People work as bus drivers, construction workers, cashiers, restarants, hotels and any other service industry work where college or university is not needed.


How do you feel about having the World Cup in Brazil? Will it hurt or help Brazil?--- It will help the rich, tourists, FIFA, and the investors but other than watching it on tv, favelados will not benefit from the games.


What does the government (and President Rousseff) do about the favelas?--- They do very little. They will provide something like a fancy footbridge to cross the highway yet leave open sewers running through the favela. Somebody once on a online forum made the comment that it would be easy to get rid of the favelas if they dropped a bomb on them. When I read this, it made me sad that people have such evil in their hearts and yet these same people claim they believe in god! (I am a atheist by the way). Its difficult to say what will be the future of favelas. Its now 2013 and not a lot of progress has been made. Favelas are convenient for the outside world when they want their cheap slave like labor or they want their cocaine, otherwise, they prefer the favela and favelados out of sight. The rich woman will despise the favela yet the cleaning lady or baby sitter comes from there. We may have police here but we have more shootings now since the police occupation than before. Ironic eh?


How do people end up in favelas?--- The favelas started because of people migrating to different parts of the country looking for jobs. When they arrived in Rio, they could not afford the rents so they were forced to live in favelas. This has to do with value of work. When you earn between 600-900 a month, you cant afford to live anywhere else but the favela.


How do children in the favelas get education and medical help?--- We have a few schools but the quality is not good and even if you graduate with top grades you still need to take a difficult entrance exam to get into the free universities. We have three health clinics, they are ok for basic health care but if you need surgery of some kind you need to go outside the favela. Health care is free but not very good.


Where are the worst favelas?--- The poorest favelas are in the northeast of the country. In Rio the worst favelas are in the outskirts of the city the north zone or west zone.