Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Compacting Wristbands for travel

Foto by Jody King 

I know many people that want to bring wristbands for Rocinha. I have given out about 6,000 of them and people still ask me about them. I wrote a post a while ago about the pride people have here in Rocinha. Giving these wristbands out gives me great joy as I love to see the smiles on peoples faces. It also gives us something to feel good about.

I decided to take photos of how to reduce the size of wristbands by wrapping them in each other. This way you don't need take up as much space in your baggage.

So here are the steps:

Step 1- When you received the wristbands they will come in bags like this. There will be 100 wristbands in each bag. So, if you ordered 1000 wristbands, they will come in 10 bags.

Step 2- Open the bag and take the wristbands out. These wristbands are size Medium. You will put them inside of each other, see the following fotos. With size Medium wristbands you can fit 6 inside of each other. With size Large wristbands you can compact 7 to 8 of them together.

Step 3 - So, as you see from this foto, I have put one wristband inside the other and will continue this process until I have six wristbands in one bunch.


       Finally 6 wristbands in a bunch. In this way, they will take up much less      space in your luggage than if they are in the plastic bag.

To show you how they can be compacted there are 5 bundles of 6 wristbands = 30 wristbands. So imagine the difference between the bag full of free wristbands and those compacted.

    This photo above is of 102 (17x6 = 102) compacted wristbands

Here is the comparison of 102 compacted wristbands to the left and 100 in the plastic bag.

Jody King's photos of him compacting wristbands.

    Photos by Jody King

I want to thank Amazing Wristbands for supporting our initiative here to bring joy to the people here in Rocinha.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Our Goal to create a Community Center

    Foto by Jody King

Music/Dj School/Community Center

I have always wanted to do something like this. But this idea was formed with a definite goal back in 2001. I always wanted to create something great that could live on beyond me. I was a dj for many years while living in Canada, the USA and Brazil. I have always had this passion for music and to spread the love of all kinds of music. After much talking to the residents and other Dj's in the community, I thought this would be a great fit.

When I started making tours in my favela of Rocinha in 2008, I always had this idea of using the money we earned through the tours to make a project here. Nobody told me this, I just feel its the right thing to do. I did not really start to earn money until 2010. It was then my Dj school idea came to be. I spoke with many in the community about my idea and everybody thought it was a great idea. I think in the beginning many in the favela thought I was all talk. Unfortunately, like any community, you will have people who promise but dont follow through.

I always knew that I could make this happen. With a lot of working and saving money, Spin Rocinha was born on August 1, 2011. With old and inferior equipment we started running classes two days a week out of my living room in my small one bedroom apartment. Gradually over time we were able to acquire some top of the line Pioneer equipment and enrollment in the classes slowly grew. I moved out of the bedroom and into the living room/kitchen area. The bedroom because it was bigger, became the dj school. 

Many Dj’s from other countries and Brazil have given workshops for our students. Dj’s Copyflex, Lulu Rouge and Rasmus Schack from Denmark and Brazilians, Dj Tucho, Dj Duda Santtos, Flavia Xexeo are just some of the people who have passed through Spin Rocinha.

We currently have about 18-20 students enrolled in our programs. Right now our focus is on dj’ing and the techniques that go along with dj’ing. Unfortunately because of lack of funds we don’t have computers to teach production of music, but it is something we are definitely interested in as it is part of dj’ing. We do have students that want to produce but they don’t have computers or the software to do so. In the future we definitely want this to be part of our programs.

Our students are between 16-57 years old and people find out about us through word of mouth. We do not advertise because our current space can only accommodate about 10 people maximum. Classes are Monday, Wednesday and  Friday from 7pm until 9:30pm. The dj courses are free to all favela residents. For those interested in becoming a professional dj, playing in clubs etc, we have connections with some night clubs outside of the favela. The majority of our students are playing house or some kind of electronic music.

Our school is gaining more attention and we are having more people stop by to see what Spin Rocinha is all about. We can not enroll these other students at this time because we don’t have the space. So, I have always wanted to create a community center type place as I have other interests that I think would combine well with this idea. So here is an outline of what we would like to create.

Community Center & Dj School

The community center would consist of 3 floors with access to a rooftop
These are just ideas as this is open to change.

First floor
-dj classroom
-production room with computers
-recording room
-small office

Second Floor
-2-3 rooms for guests to stay
-bathroom with shower facilities
-living room area
-small kitchen area

Third floor
-open space
-bathroom (toilet & sink)
-storage room for cleaning, maintenance supplies, donations

-open for parties, events, small service area for washing, hanging clothes

The third floor Open Space will be used for various projects in the favela. 
We already have input from community members on what classes the open space could be used for. The open space would have folding tables and chairs. 

-English classes
-Art classes
-Entrepreneurship classes
-Classes for tourism, creating more favela tour guides
-Photography & Film Making
-Yoga & Meditation
-Theatre Group
-Meeting Space for organizations that need a place

These are just some of the ideas of what the possibilities are. I have discussed this idea with members of the favela who would help make these classes a reality.

Sustaining this building would come through the various visitors from outside of Brazil who would stay in the favela. 
They would pay a small amount to live in a shared room with one other person. Also, parties would help to generate income for the community center. 
Tourism will also contribute to the function of the center.

This is just a start. I would like to start looking at places but I really think it’s too soon. 
The more money we have access to, the better we can make this community center. 
No matter how this money is raised, I want all people who have helped to be involved in the process from buying the place to seeing it develop.

This is just the beginning..

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A special friend returns to stay in Rocinha!

Interview with Stey Endel in Rocinha!

I get the opportunity through tourism to meet so many friendly people. I met Stey and she was able to first visit the favela and check it out. Then she contacted me a few months ago saying she was returning here and wanted to stay in the favela. My friend Adam was able to find her a home stay with a family and the rest, I will let you read her impressions below!

Can you tell me your name, where you are from?
I’m Stephanie, my friends call me Stey and I’m from ParisFrance.

- Why did you come to Brasil?
It’s not my first time in Brazil. Since I’ve been little my parents have taken me there for vacations. As my family is from French Guiana bordered on the north of Brazil, it was quite easy for us to come there often. So I just fell in love with this country. Besides, each region in Brazil is different : the population, the food, the people, the music, even the culture. So need more than one travel to know them all and I really wanted to come back in Brazil as an adult to (re)discover and learn everything again. So far I’ve came 4 times since 2010. However, I decided last summer to come back in Brazil and to stay longer enough to live like locals, practice my Portuguese, help the community if I can and to feel like I was part of something, part of the country.

- When you arrived where did you live?
I arrived on the 5th of November in Rio de Janeiro. I didn’t to go to an hotel in Ipanema, I didn’t want either to go to a pousada in Lapa. I knew exactly where I wanted to be : in Rocinha, the biggest favela in Brazil. Thanks to Zezinho, our tour guide when we first visited the favela a year ago and Adam who’s in charge of the Favela Experience, they helped me finding an accommodation in Rocinha. I wanted to live in a family : it’s the best way to get knowing people, their habits, culture, language and of course sharing my experience and stories too.

- How did you find out about favelas?
One of my friend told me about the Favela Experience and the tour he did in Rocinha. He gave me the contact and I asked to be with the same guide, Zezinho. I read his blog and I contacted him.

- Why did you decide to move into a favela (Rocinha)?
First of all I wanted to do a voluntary work. The best way to help the community is to live with the community.

Second, I wanted to live “the real Rio”, far from the spotlights, the tourists and the people who live just like in Europe. I wanted to meet people who are just happy with what they’ve got, people who are proud of their favela and who welcome you like family. No fuss, no bling bling, no English or French speakers, just simple things.

Some people would say : it’s cheaper to live in a favela than in a pousada or in a hotel in Rio. It’s true, but it’s not the money who will attract you in a favela. It’s the experience and the people.

- Before moving here what did you know about favelas?
We all have clich├ęs about favelas : poor neighbourhood, ghetto, violence, poverty, slum, drugs, dirt, no drinkable water, no electricity etc.  The place to avoid according to many guide books.

- Since living here, have you impressions of favelas changed much?
Since I’ve lived in Rocinha my vision has changed of course. Well, all favelas are different, some are more dangerous and poorer that some others. But people need to get their own opinion and not the one the medias want us to get. You need to get there and see by yourself. People may not be rich as people in residential districts, but people are happy, respectful, real, helpful, friendly. Kids are going to school, people are hard workers, brave, people don’t steal and even if some streets are dirty, it’s not unbearable.

Besides, it’s not dangerous! I mean each city, each district are their own areas where you shouldn’t go for a walk. In Rocinha it’s the same and I felt safer. Rocinha for me it was just like a town : many shops, bars and restaurants (even sushis restaurants), a hospital, schools, a post-office, makers, great street party until 8am, clubs, banks, a surf school, a sport complex, swimming-pool, supermarkets, public transports who lead you straight the other side of Rio… even the beach is only 10 minutes by foot.  

I thought also as a foreigner who knows no one I would be alone, or hanging more at the end in the tourist areas of Rio. I met great people in Rocinha, I had, have still, friends there. And this is make my experience even more beautiful.

- What do you like about living in the favela? 
The people, the fact that I felt alive there and safe most of the time, the amazing view I had from my house and the fact that I could do whatever I wanted : practicing sport, helping the community, doing some shopping, going back home late, partying, meeting friends at the beach or at the basketball playground, surfing….. I was just living normally basically. No stress about anything. And if it could get unsafe, people who just tell you “don’t go out today it’s not safe”. That the thing in Rocinha, people are talking to each other, people’ve got your back.

- What don’t you like? 
Sometimes it can get dirty (trash in the streets) and the traffic can be horrendous. Also, the neighbours can be very loud, nothing to hide, but at the same time you can enjoy the party next door!

- If you had a magic wand and could change anything, what would you change about the favela? 
I would make better stairs/ways for elder people to go up and down easily, I would fix some playgrounds so the kids can play football or basketball safely without getting wet when it’s raining. Just little things to make things even better there.

- Has your experience been worthwhile? 

- What advice would you give someone who wanted to move/stay here? 
Don’t be afraid just live it at 100%.

- Would you come back to live here again? 
I can’t wait to go back to Brazil, live again in Rocinha and see my friends again.

Anything else you would like to comment about regarding life here?
I love Rocinha and nothing, no one would make changing my mind. 

Stephanie F-E