Friday, March 6, 2015

Changes for 2015

The year of 2015 was a good one. We increased our tours by 38%. Each year I keep the numbers of what was earned. Our top guide was able to make more money than ever before. Dembore rented out his house during the World Cup, worked making tours with us and also played some dj gigs. I was so happy to see a guy who before was taking home 800 reais a month to now see him earn close to 2,500-3,000 a month.

The World Cup was extremely busy and we were able to employ 6 guides. Three guides full time and 3 part time. Our tours were so popular that I had to turn away business. I passed on tours to other guides here in the favela. Dembore earned almost 4,000 reais in tours during the World Cup.

I am very thankful of the good karma that has been part of my life for the past 10 years. I really believe that what you put out there comes back. Working in tourism I have met people from all corners of the earth. Many have come back to visit or volunteer here. I have never had such a great job. The dj school is popular and successful.  And our future looks good to buy this building.

I want to put out thanks for several people who are important in my life. Without these people 2014 would not have been the success it was. Thanks to Dembore, Tais, Jody, Obi and Magno. Rita, for all your support of our work here in Rocinha and keeping the community happy by bringing the "Eu (heart) Rocinha" wristbands. Berit, for your caring for the most needy of people here. I know you will return soon! Daniel for your numerous visits and making the camera project a reality. And all of those tourists who came on our tours and have helped with the dj school or donations that support our various projects here in Rocinha.

Ten years ago I never thought I would be doing the work I am doing now. I was a sign painter, dj, working in a spa. My life was very different and more stressful. When I returned to Rocinha I was not sure what I would do but had ideas on work that would be satisfying.  There were several people in Rocinha that suggested I show foreigners our community. In the beginning I did not want to do this because I was not sure what I would tell people.

After much thinking and meetings with residents, I decided I would do everything to learn about this community. Its one thing to live here and exist and another to live here with a real understanding of how everything operates here. I wanted an accurate story to tell I did not want to reinforce negative images of favelas like the mainstream media shows. Everybody has access to the negative. I just wanted to show the everyday life of what its like to live in Rocinha.

So now its 2015 and we have been at this business for over 7 years now. We have been able to give many jobs to residents and show the favela they way we want. Many tourists have returned to volunteer with many projects here. And the World Cup generated over 50 kilos in donations of school and art supplies who benefited 4 of our projects in Rocinha. This work has been so rewarding.

With all of the success there has been sacrifices. My social life has been cut down considerably. I have had to learn that others now depend on me. Without me working online and answering emails, the other guides would not have work. My responsibility outside of myself is bigger. The sacrifices are there and there is good and bad to this. The good, is the ability to help others earn a living and myself earning a good wage.

The biggest sacrifice has been my health. My health is not the same as it was 10 years ago. Ten years ago I was in shape and competing in MMA and playing Ice hockey.  Now I am out of shape and at 5 foot 4 inches tall I weigh 218 pounds. Or 157 cm tall and about 100 kilos. At my height I should weigh about 165 pounds or 75 kilos.

Since 2009 when the business really got busy, I haven’t had the time to take care of myself. It has be difficult to find time to do other things outside of the tours and the dj school. But I am going to make some changes.

The first obvious thing was to have some dental work done. My mother lost all f her teeth by the time she was 35. I see some of this heredity pass on to me. So, I will take the steps necessary to improve my dental health. The second thing I want to do is to get in better shape and try to lose about 25 kilos  (about 55 pounds) of weight. I know this will not be easy, as I need to organize my time so I can make this work.

I have been to the dentist 2 times in the last ten days. I still have more work to be done. Getting teeth pulled is very painful, especially the recovery period. I was at the dentist last night and still my mouth hurts. But as my mouth heals it will be much better.

I am on my way and 2015 is my year to finally take care of me!