Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rocinha Welcome's Loughborough Enactus Students

I have been in contact with Matt Ong from England who works for an organization called Enactus and its part of their University program. Enactus is a non profit company that has offices in many countries. Loughborough University has a Enactus program. They want to help us raise money to buy a building here in Rocinha to make a community Centre. This is what social entrepreneurs do!

This is a description from Enactus website as to what they do:
"In villages, towns and cities around the world, Enactus students are demonstrating that business has the power to inspire hope, create opportunity where little existed and ultimately improve lives and strengthen communities. As these students succeed at helping others they develop stronger business and leadership skills, as well as a sense of service and responsibility to the community and world around them. They’re emerging as leaders who understand the opportunity for business to make a positive economic, social and environmental impact. Their achievements are the story of Enactus success."

I met Matt through Jo, a girl who was staying in Vidigal volunteering for some projects there. He had emailed me almost 1 year ago wanting to get information about community activities and projects. Matt had asked me if I knew of any projects that needed help and I told him that I would get back to him. I had heard of a few people in Rocinha who had ideas but nothing yet put on paper. I opened Spin Rocinha in 2011 and always thought that in the future I could expand our project to include a recording studio and a production room for students to create their own music on computers. Our Dj school Spin Rocinha currently operates out of my bedroom and I have been wanting to eventually buy or rent a space for the school. So having a building would be the next step.

I was talking to many people about my idea and the community knew already about Spin Rocinha. This caught the attention of Matt in his wanting to link up with somebody who already has an idea and a plan. The idea is to have independent projects that have their own directors, coordinators and volunteers have access to the space to use. The building would be managed by two people who would over see the scheduling of the projects to ensure open space and time.

Some of the projects that we want in our community centre already have a basic structure of operation in place. Rogerio has Espaco das Artes, an art project for children, Jody has Favela Pheonix, and there are others that have interest but have not yet put in a commitment yet until they see we will be buying a building.

Out of this, the students developed a specific name for this project now dedicated to fundraising for the building. Its called Project Vida. There is a Facebook Page and a Website where you can find all the information that you need. With the students starting their promotion, Matt contacted me to let me know that 4 of the students from Project Vida would be coming to Rio and would be staying in Rocinha. The 4 students are Tom Gray, Gabrielle Ross, Oliver Thorp and Fiona Robinson

Friday June 19th, David Kiss, a friend of mine who owns a taxi service picked up Tom, Gabrielle, Oliver and Fiona at the International Airport and brought then to Rocinha. Obi of Rocinha Guest House met them and took them to the guesthouse where they will be staying for 10 days. They arrived in the evening about 7:00 and it was dark so they didn't really get to see much. I met them and we took the van to the bottom of the hill. I wanted to show them about how the vans operate in the favela. We ate dinner at Trapia Social and then we took the van back up the hill. We planned the tour for Saturday so they could see everything during daylight. They want to have a better understanding of the favela community.

Saturday June 20th 11am: I met the students at the top of Rua 1, complete tour of Rocinha. We walked through the community where I explained about how things work here and for them to see the neighborhood and get comfortable walking around. We started at Rua 1 and ended up at the Valao after eating lunch at the por kilo place Trapia Social.

from L to R: Oliver, Tom, Fiona and Gabrielle

Later in the evening they came by to see our Dj School Spin Rocinha and took turns playing the equipment until the students started to arrive.

Sunday June 21st The group had their first opportunity to leave the favela and walk around Copacabana and Ipanema. Later early evening the group went to check out Sushi Roma one of our favorite Sushi places in Rocinha. Jody and I met them and we watched Brazil beat Venezuela 2-1 in a football match.

  The gang at Sushi Roma.

Monday June 22nd 12:00 I met the group in front of my house and I took them by to see a building where the government used to run a project teaching youth how to build computers called Fabrica Verde. Its 4 floors and its a new building. This would be a great space and its big enough to do everything that we would want to do.

 This is the outside of the building of Fabrica Verde.

 This foto is of one of the classrooms on the 3rd floor where English classes were taught and meeting were held.

This room is on the first floor and was used as a internet cafe and learning centre.
This photo was of a Fabrica Verde Party. This would be a perfect building to buy if its available.

After checking out Fabrica Verde we descended the hill to meet Allan at the Real Estate Office at 12:30pm. He arrived on time and we spoke about the objective of our wanting to buy a building the favela and make it a community center. Allan briefly spoke about buildings for sale in Cidade Nova, Cachopa (neighborhood names in the favela) and apartment for rent near Bob's Burgers.
He could not show us places today so he suggested we return on Wednesday morning at 9:30 to meet again when he could show us places. After we went to eat at Trapia.

Tuesday June 23rd 11:45 Met at Bob's Bill a great breakfast stop and briefly stopped by Garagem das Letras, Barbara Olivi's Project and explained a little about the library cafe that they are opening.

We then went to Oficina do Sucesso to meet Alessandra or "Leca" at 12 noon. The building that houses the projects is huge and sponsored by a church Maria Nazare Spirituist group and by individuals who keep things running. They have many different classes there from swimming, football, English classes, Music, Breakdancing and classes to prepare youth for their future. The students wanted to see how the project was run for ideas about how we could organize our building. It's good to learn from others. Later we stopped by the new library as I wanted to show them a government run building. The problem with the library is because its government run, its not easy to get a program put in there. Theres a lot of red tape.

I met some guys doing a dj presentation and the students went back to interview some of the students from Oficina do Sucesso and Leca. There is a definite need for more buildings and projects like what Leca is involved in. I admire what she has helped to create there and hope with our project we can do the same.

Students from "Oficina do Sucesso"

Wednesday June 24th I met the group in front of my house at 9:20 and we arrived at the Real Estate Office at 9:32. Alllan was not there and he finally arrived at 10:00am. He said that he had come by my house last night at 10pm but I never heard a knock on my door. Allan had apparently tried to get in contact with some of the people selling their places. He told me that out of the 3 places, two of them he thought would be too small. The other place he could not get in touch with the owner in time to get the keys. But he took us to see a penthouse apartment for rent. I was curious about the apartment, but I wanted the students to see the view and get an idea of what a "luxury" place in the favela would look like. And the view was awesome!

Incredibly huge roof top view! I would rent this place but the price is a bit too high for me. Allan is the property manager of the building where I live now so he is someone that I feel I can trust. Its sad because today we did not accomplish anything and I had to explain to the students that unfortunately things work differently here and it takes time. I explained to Allan on Monday why the students were here and I told him the students need to leave on the 30th of June so theres not much time left for the students to get an idea of what things cost here. The group is also involved with other meetings while here in Rio so their schedule is tight. I am not sure if Allan will try to set up another meeting before the group leaves. When Matthew comes in January, I am hoping we have better luck. I think its best if those that come are able to stay for 2 weeks.

After the visit to this apartment, the group went off to see a football game in Maracana Stadium. Fluminense played against Ponte Preta of Sao Paulo and won the game 2-0.

Thursday June 25th This day was to organize and for the team to meet and discuss objectives and ideas about fundraising. They also were updating and working with social media about the project.

Friday June 26th Today we visited Wark Studio, the grafitti artist who paints the angel figures that one can see around Rio and all over Rocinha. Many of the group bought art from Wark so they are supporting a good project. Wark also teaches art classes for youth in Rocinha.

Wark in the red Canadian jersey with Enactus Students.

After we walked to the Residents Association in Cidade Nova, but there was a special retirement party for one of the workers there so we were unable to go into the building. On the wall of the RA there were several programs listed that were about extended learning online. I also explained about the other services that the RA offers.

We walked to the AMMAB community building which offers computer classes by Microlins. The centre has jiu jitsu, muay thai, boxing, dancing and English classes. Its good for the group to see the projects that exist in Rocinha. Its obvious we need more programs.

Saturday June 27th I met Emzingo students and Ramon at Posto 5 in Copacabana to do a tour, play football and get to interact with the Enactus students. I think it was great for those from Emzingo to meet the students of Enactus and exchange information about what each company does as far as social entrepreneurship. Both Enactus and Emzingo have lots in common. We walked through the community ending off with a late lunch and then over the bridge.

Enactus and Emzingo groups mixed with players from Rocinha. The game was close. I think a good time was had by all.

After the football both groups got a chance at introductions and we able to explain what they are doing in Rio. Emzingo has organized their social entrepreneurship help with an NGO called Favela Verde which promotes green spaces and the importance of recycling and the environment.

After our meeting we separated into two groups. Jody took one group and I took the other. We ended up meeting in Cidade Nova and we walked to Trapia. Everyone was really hungry so we ate a hearty meal and ended off the tour with some fotos on the bridge.

The two groups separated and Emzingo took the bus back to Copacabana and Fiona, Gabriella, Tom and Oliver made their way back up to the top of the favela to rest.

Sunday June 28th, The team finally got to be tourists for the day. First stop was the Christ statue, then off to meet the Enactus Rio Group to check out their project on Copacabana Beach. For the evening they hiked up Sugar Loaf to see the sunset then home after a long day.

Monday June 29th, The Enactus group went to visit a NGO in Vidigal to see how their project through having a hostel was able to support the NGO's activities in the building. The hostel charges 30 reais a night in low season and up to 4 times that during New Years, Carnival and the coming Olympics. This kind of research is good as it will help gives us ideas on how we can run our hostel as well.

Later we met to eat at Bom Appetite a nice little local eatery close to my house. Jody came along and we had a chance to chat about the future of the purchase of the building and plans of we want to do.

Fiona practicing her "building" skills in Bom Appetite restaurant.

After eating I wanted to get fotos of the Fabrica Verde building. This building would be perfect for everything that we want to do. It is 4 floors. The first floor is a big open space with an office in the back, small kitchen area and bathroom with shower. The second floor is two large open space rooms and two bathrooms. The third floor is two big open rooms. The fourth floor was under construction the last time I saw it. The forth floor would be big enough to have 3 to four rooms for the "hostel". From what one of the neighbors told me tonight, the guy who owns the building is living inside there. At some point I plan to get in touch with him and see what his plans are with the building.

Front row--> Gabriella, Tom and Oliver, Back row--> Fiona and Jody King.

Tuesday June 30th, The team woke early and passed by to see Leca at Oficina do Sucesso then descended the hill to give Enactus Rio guys a tour of the favela.

They met Henrique Cecconi and Alan Almeida de Andrade at the pasarella at walked up the hill to show them the community. This is the first time they had ever been inside Rocinha. Everybody stopped by the dj school where I was able to give them information about our project. My cat Jaki really loved Alan. As you can see her sitting on Alan's head playing with his hair.

And finally I wanted to get Enactus Loughborough and Enactus Rio together in a foto.
Left to right: Tom, Henrique, Alan, Oliver, Gabriella and Fiona

They left the Dj school to continue showing Alan and Henrique the favela. I later met the group at the top of Rocinha to see them off with David who was taking them off to the airport. I was able to take some fotos of them before they left.

I think for the limited amount of time that the Enactus Loughborough team was here they were able to visit many projects, get an idea about the community and its needs. Unfortunately it was difficult for me to schedule meetings with people who are selling places. For Enactus Team it would have been nice to see the insides of places for sale. Alan, the real estate guy was unable to work out any meetings with prospective sellers. I think many people in Brazil are used to people talking but not doing, so I think Alan was surprised when I brought the team by the Real Estate office last week. I had written him a letter and put it on his desk on the 10th of June letting him know the arrival of the team. I don't know, maybe he didn't take me serious? Anyhow the biggest problem in Brazil is people do things when they want and it doesn't always fit people's schedules.
I was able to have them see the Fabrica Verde building if only on the outside, They saw Leca's project and building, the project in Vidigal run by favela experience and they saw the inside of the building that AMABB runs where Microlins has their computer courses.

My suggestion is that if representatives come from the UK for the purchase of a building that its best to stay for minimum 3 weeks. This should be plenty of time to organize meetings to see places. Also the team had many other activities going on which is understandable that there was not enough time to schedule time in just to see places. I still think the team coming was of great value because they were able to experience the favela from the inside and see how it works and what is needed here.

I want to thank Matthew Ong for being the person who was the first to believe in me and my ideas for a community center.  He has trusted in me about the goals we want to achieve and Enactus for their support. Thank you to Fiona, Dan, Gabriella and Oliver for trusting their stay in the favela would be a safe and productive one! Please come back to visit again.