Monday, March 21, 2016


After about 4 months of collection donations, we are starting the distribution of the art and school supplies received over Christmas, New Years and Carnaval. I have put a post on Facebook on the page called "Rocinha' searching for creches and schools to give the materials to. I have given to specific daycares in the past but I want to open up other avenues and make connections with more creches in need. The more we can help the better.

I need to make something clear here. I have always been about transparency in regards to the work we do. I received a message from a woman who complained that she saw posts like this one as "showing off".  Her point is understood but she is not in my position. Many tourists give to projects like mine because we are very clear in what we do. People who give donations to us, and they have every right to see (with proof) where their donations go. There are many scammers out there looking to take advantage of nice people. I want at all times, my words to be backed by showing what we do. So, if some see it as "showing off", so be it.

So the distribution of donations has begun.

March 20th, 2016: The first place we gave to is Centro Social "E Ae Como E Que Fica". Sandra who works with the school came by to pick up some of the school supplies. Her creche serves about 100 children between the ages of 5 months until 5 years old. Her creche is located at the top of Rua 1 in Rocinha.

Today March 21st we had 3 groups come to pick up donations.

The first was Ivan Taylor, 26 years old is the son of Juaciara. Juaciara runs the creche called Maria Maria in the area of Cezario high up the hill in Rocinha. Their creche serves about 80 children between the ages of 5 months and 5 years. I hope these supplies can help their project. Below are fotos of the creche and the children using the materials. Creche Maria Maria is ever so greatfull. Thank you to everyone who donated!

The next person to pick up some donations was Junior, 15 years old, the son of Luciana Santos. She started "Casa da Luciana" as a means to raise her kids at home and help other families. She currently takes care of about 20 children from the ages of 1 year until 10 years old.

Luciana sent me this message: "Hello Zezinho, I am 47 years old and I take care of children at the entrance of street number 2 in the favela. I began this work a long time ago. Because I have problems with my weight, I prefer to stay and work in my home. I also work to receive toys and donations that I can distribute to needy families. I don't accept money. I have been doing this work for 5 years."

Luciana sent me some photos of the children that she cares for. The photos are not the best, but she is a very proud woman!

UPDATE April 4th: I advised Luciana to make a facebook page to promote her creche and now she has a page called Refugio e Fortaleza. Check it out!

Creche Municipal Castelinho

Leidy Martins of Creche Castelinho had her husband and son (see photo) come by my place to pick up two big bags of combination of clothing, bed sheets, blankets and the second bag was all school and art supplies. I have been working with Castelinho for about 3 years now. A photo below of what Castelinho will receive. The school and art supplies are for the daycare. The clothing, sheets and blankets will be given to specific families.

                                 Donations have arrived at the creche

A child at Creche Castelinho enjoying the coloring book and markers.

Creche Castelinho was started as a private daycare in 1994 but then because a municipal or city governed daycare in 2004. Leidy Martins has been working at the daycare since 2007 and she loves working with children. The school has 100 children enrolled between the ages of 1 to 3 years old.

I always try to help different types of daycares that are in need. Children need activities to keep them busy and have fun.

If you would like to donate to one of these projects, the directors have told me that the most needed items are:

Coloring books
Coloring books with educational things (like coloring simple math problems)
Colored Pencils
Simple puzzles

These should be items that are suitable for children 3-10 years old.

I want to give a BIG thank you out to all the wonderful visitors who gave these school supplies in 2015-16. These materials will be put to good use! Also for
Pack for a Purpose a website that encourages visitors to low income areas around the world to bring donations to projects in need.

If you are interested in helping in any way please contact Zezinho at:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Heavy rains flood various parts of Rocinha

Living in Rocinha (a favela)

When the rain comes theres always potential problems. We used to have many mud and landslides, but things have changed. Many who lived in the most risky areas have moved and the don't go back, knowing the dangers. But flooding still exists. Tonight from about 7:30pm until 10:00pm the pictures I received were shocking. Water almost 1 meter in height running through the alleyways.

People live high up on the hill do have a civil defense post they can go to if water invades their home. Check out the fotos below.

Check out this video to get a better idea of what was going on tonight.
Thanks to a media company in Rocinha for the use of their video.

or this video or this one.

Many animals were affected by the heavy rains in the favela. 2 dogs on a moto.

After the rain stopped there was still a lot of water.

After the water drained away this is what was left mostly at the bottom of Rocinha. We have a problem with many who do not put trash in the proper areas. I see many who just throw trash on the street and this is the result after heavy rains.

The sad results, two people died in the floods in Rocinha. One 60 year old man was washed away in the open sewer. More reason for the need from the government to help us close these open sewers. The foto below shows the city workers finding the body of a man washed away from the top of the favela, to the bottom.

These are just some of the problems we face living in a favela.

Forming partnerships

I enjoy meeting new people and helping to create new opportunities for people here in Rocinha. Working in tourism, the idea is to bring the world to the favela to see and take part in activities. Its a cultural exchange that benefits both resident and visitor. Making interesting visits to Rocinha is my objective.

I remember about 5 months ago we had visitors ask about samba music and drumming. This gave me an idea to find groups in Rocinha that work with Percussion or Drumming. I found a group at the top of Rua 1 called Pragradar.

Pragradar is run by Carlos Augusto Santos who lives at the top of Rua 1. This history of Pragradar goes back to about 1990 when the group was formed as an offshoot from favela's Academicos da Rocinha Samba School. They were originally called "Sangue Jovem" or Young Blood as they were the youth coming up through the ranks.

They currently have about 200 youth (between 8-17 years old)  who have their own "bloco" that parades through the sambadrome during carnival. The kids group consists of both boys and girls.

Approximately 1000 members of Pragradar parade. There is aso an adult group that has their "bloco" in Rocinha.

One of the street parades in Rocinha. A mix of residents and the Pragradar group.

I met Carlos a few years ago but recently started seeing him often and asked about drumming classes for our visitors. So we worked out an agreement that we can offer this opportunity. It benefits our visitors as they get a taste of authentic samba culture and the Pragradar group benefits as the money they earn can go to their support their groups.

Recently there has been much interest. On February 14th we received Fanshawe University of London Ontario who brought 7 students to visit Rocinha. Adriana MacDonald has brought groups here before. The last time, we had the group playing a game of football against the locals. This time I thought the drumming class would be something new.

On March 8th a group called "See You In Brazil" contacted us for an experience. So again we wanted to give an interesting introduction to Favela life. The students from South Carolina performed well. Luiz Alegre Silva organizes tours all over Brazil and we are thankful that he brought his group to experience Rocinha and Pragradar.

We hope that others will come to Rocinha and experience the many activities we offer. For more information, please contact us at or visit
our website and see what activities may interest your at