Friday, May 23, 2014

Meet Vitoria! Tour Guide, Fashion Designer & Artist!

Vitoria has been working with FAVELA ADVENTURES for a little more than 1 year. She has a great outlook on her life and people on the outside need to know that in our favela, we have some amazing people. So, please read about Vitoria!

1.) What is your full name?
Maria Vitória Flores dos Santos

2.) Where do you live? (Example: I live in Rocinha in a area called Cachopa)
I live in Rocinha, in na área called Boiadeiro

3.) How old are you?
I'm 17

4.) Are you in school or work. Please explain a little about this.
Yes, I’m school and I also work. I’m currently at the last year of high school, preparing for university, in which I wan to study Fashion Design and Marketing. I work as a tour guide here in Rocinha as well, I started around one year and a half ago. It’s been a wonderful experience, I’ve grown a lot as a person. I also do modeling jobs, and I sell the illustration I draw, I’m starting a new business with art.

5.) What are your hobbies or things that you like to do when you are not in school or working?
The thing I love to do the most when I have free time is to draw. Clothes, faces, places…anything that inspires me. I also love listening to music (mostly in English so I can improve vocabulary), hang out with friends, and watch movies.

6.) When you are working as a guide here in Rocinha what is your idea that you want to show for the tourists?
Being a tour guide is interesting for me because it’s an unique opportunity to show people the reality. Many people around the world have such a wrong idea about the place, thinking there’s people starving on the street, thinking that people are not polite or things like this. The most important thing is to show that we are just like any other people in the city. We are even more, we are special. Things you learn when you live here, you don’t learn anywhere else. I’m really thankful for all I’ve been through here, it’s a life school. I feel indescribable joy when I see that the tourists leave, back to their homelands, with a new idea of favelas and of Rio, with on open mind and heart. I love Rocinha!

7.) What do you like most about being a guide here in Rocinha?
Since I started working as a tour guide, I feel more responsibility on me. It’s not always easy to communicate and show your ideas. The most precious thing about being a tour guide here in Rocinha for me is the truth. The responsibility of telling the truth, telling accurate information is the key for a good work. I love to work in Favela Adventures for the fact that only people that live in Rocinha can work in the company, so it means that we’ve been here when all good and bad things happened. I love the fact that the community in the area where I live already recognizes me as a tour guide, and the feedback is very positive!

8.) What do you like about living in Rocinha?
I’m born and raised here in Rocinha, so I can’t really imagine myself living somewhere else in the city. Rocinha is a place where you have everything. And when I say everything, it really means everything! Supermarkets, clothes stores, bars, hair saloons, restaurants, gyms… You don’t need to go anywhere to have all you want (for cheaper prices!). Of course I don’t know everybody in the favela, cause we have around 300.000 people living here. However, my relationship with my neighbors is amazing. They know me since I was little, we are very close and friendly to each other, and it’s like this anywhere I go in here, people are not afraid to talk and be close to you, cause at the end of the day we are community.

9.) What don't you like about living in Rocinha?
One thing I don’t like about living here at the moment is the sanitary issues. We are such a huge favela, and really well structured one, but the trash and sewage problem really bothers me, because it’s basic. Trash collector, decent sewage, daily cleaning, these are all basic things every community needs, and the government doesn’t care for this.

10.) If you had a magic wand, what would you change about Rocinha?
At the moment, if I had a magic wand to change anything here in Rocinha, I’d change people’s self view. Something I see a lot here is people that don’t have enough self esteem, because they feel like they’re less important in the city for living in a favela. If I could, I’d make them see they’re important and that they matter, they can pursue their dreams in life, even with all the prejudice around.

11.) What are your plans for your future? 
My main goal for the future is to be successful doing what I love. I’m getting involved in many fashion projects, being the main designer for three fashion collections that will be launched in Berlin, Istanbul and Paris (you can see a little bit of my work in  I’m young, but very ambitious in life. Getting into as many projects as I can will help me reach my goal right now, which is getting a scholarship in an American Fashion University, called Kent State University, in Ohio. I want to have a good education in Fashion Design and Marketing so I can have my own brand in the future. This is really important for me for personal happiness, and also to be an example to people around me. I do want to live here in Brazil, and come back to Rocinha after I graduate, developing and investing in projects to help people see that if I can, they can!

12.) Anything else that you would like to share with your readers?
I’d just like to say that we all matter, and prejudice won’t take anybody anywhere. Come get to know Rocinha, it’ll surely be a great experience and will make you think about society and how things work. The love I feel for this place, even with all the problems, is huge. I love Rocinha!