Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pay it Forward

This camera has a owner that is missing it dearly! We WILL find its owner!

I remember seeing this film "Pay it Forward" with Haley Joel Osment as the main character in a story about being nice to each other. Many think of stories like this to be corny or not realistic but there are those of us who hold this idea dear. I am one of them. In times of trouble I try to be optimistic.

With the way the world is and humanity seeming to be so crappy, I see the good in people. The media loves to keep people in fear with 90% of the stories being negative. What does this say about humans? Do people really prefer reading or watching stories about others suffering? I know I don't. I tell people to take that shit elsewhere. Yes, I said "shit" because that's exactly what it is, and the media feeds the masses, plenty of it daily. We are bombarded with it through tv, radio, newspapers and internet. I know bad people exist but just keep that shit far from me.

So, this is a good story that includes four people working for a common goal of getting a lost camera to its home. I have always felt that keeping something so personal as a cel phone or a camera to be bad karma. These items carry the energy of other people which is why I always buy these things brand new from the store.

This story starts a few weeks ago. Here's the back story:

Marcello Farias a 42 year old bar man, surfing enthusiast and a resident of Rocinha and community activist in our favela for Salvemos Sao Conrado found a wallet with about 10,000 reais inside with his friend Marcos Bam Bam Nascimento. They found this wallet bulging with money, credit cards and other valuables one day while walking on the sidewalk in front of Sao Conrado Beach.

Of course most people's initial thought would be "finders keepers", but not Marcello and Bam Bam.

They put up a post on Facebook asking advice on what to do. Most of the responses were to go to the local hotels nearby as many of the contents in the wallet showed to be of a foreigner. With that much money, the person had to be staying nearby. Luciano Huck, a Rio de Janeiro tv personality who has a show called Caldeirao de Huck even spread the word to help find the owner of the wallet. The media was so impressed by this act that their were stories written in the news papers and they were asked to go on Balanco Geral, a tv program that covers events in Rio.

Marcello and Bam Bam on Balanco Geral. "Cariocas find a wallet with 10,000 reais. They give an example of honesty".

O Globo's was "Man finds wallet with about 5,000 reais and finds owner".  R7 writes "Two Cariocas return wallet to Argentino with the equivalent of 10,000 reais", and G1 writes "Cariocas find wallet with 10,000 reais, post on the internet and go around to the hotels to eventually find the owner".

Through a little work Marcello and Bam Bam were able to find the owner, Leandro Carlos, an Argentinian man who happened to staying at the International Hotel in Sao Conrado. They met and the wallet was returned.

The guys from Rocinha received a reward of 100 US Dollars for their honesty but the story has even more to it. Continue on reading.

So, the guys get their reward money and we are all left to think they they will go off and spend a night out on the town with their 100 US Dollars (about 320 reais). But not these guys. They turn around and decide to donate this money to the purchase of items for a family that lost everything in a house fire in Cachopa (not far from where I live). See the photos below.

The house has since been cleaned out and still some more construction to do before its liveable but this is a start. Marcello, with his network of friends and others in Rocinha to spread the word, many have come forward with donations of used items or they have purchased some with the reward money to help this family get back on their feet. I jumped in and donated 150 reais to the purchase of household supplies that the family might need.

Above, here is Bam Bam and I in my house. He explained that the money will be spent on needs for the family. I trust these guys to follow through.

Marcello receiving donations from others who want to help.

Marcello and a friend collecting more donations for the family.

It's obvious that Marcello & Bam Bam are men of action. And the story continues.

About 10 days ago I get an email from Marcello telling me that this foreigner lost his camera and he wanted to get the camera back to him. He needed my help. At first, I thought "How can I help?". I had an idea. I knew about him finding the Argentino's wallet. It was all over the news. I thought, now again this guy find stuff and wants to find the owner. This guy has all the luck of finding this stuff because it's guaranteed that we will find the owner.

I told Marcello, send me all the photos and information and I will put it up on Facebook pages that I am part of. So this is what he sent me:

So, right away I get to work, posting the photos and explaining how my friend found this camera New Years Eve and we want to find the owner. I posted on all types of Foreigners in Rio sites. People were negative in their comments saying things like "You will never find this guy". I always thought differently. I just knew with my persistence and good karma that this would happen.

Within one day, I saw a response to my post from and English guy, Graham Vincent , who tagged a friend of his saying "Matti, I think this is your camera".
Matti Juhana Keltanen replied, "Yes, this is mine". Soon after he sent me a facebook message and we set to meet. All I needed to do is contact Marcello to set up the meeting. We had to set a time and day based on when Matti would be available as when contact was first made e was in Foz de Iguacu. We set the meeting 10:00am January 17th Sao Conrado/Rocinha Metro.

Today we all finally met. And I got to hear the whole story and travels of this camera. Apparently, Matti was not sure exactly where he lost it. He thought either on the beach in Copacabana or in a Uber driver's car. He called the Uber guy, no luck.

The guy who found the camera was Reynaldo Grings, who stepped into the Uber car and found the camera at his feet. Reynaldo knew the right thing to do was to try to find the owner. He actually got advice from a person on a bus about tracking down Marcello, who found the wallet. If Marcello could find the wallets' owner, he could certainly help in this situation. So, Reynaldo got in touch with Marcello and then it came to me.

Today at 10:00am was a very happy reunion of all the people involved in getting this camera of memories to Matti. We met in front of the Metro Station in front of Rocinha.

Reynaldo was the person who initially found the camera. Here, he and Matti are showing photos from the camera and his cel phone. With O Globo in the background filming the moment where finder and receiver first meet.

Matti being interviewed by O Globo about his experience in Rio.


The moment when a very happy Matt receives his camera from Reynaldo. From start to finish what an awesome story. Congrats to Marcello Farias' and Bam Bam's hard work of always doing whats right. To the person on the bus to who advised to contact Marcello, thanks to you who ever you are!

Matti and I have lots in common. We both love Hockey. He plays Ice Hockey as do I,  and a form of hockey popular in Finland called Floorball, played indoors.
We are going to try to set something up here for the favela kids with Floorball. Matti plans to return in 2 years. We have plenty of time to organize this. Nice making friendships all over the world!

The only sad thing to me about this story is why do we celebrate good deeds? Shouldn't helping others and doing whats right be the norm? Just something to think about.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A New Year

With all the negative press concerning Rocinha in the last few months, There are still plenty of positive things going on here. And I am not the only one. There are many people who have overcome many obstacles to become successful here.

After collecting donations in the last 3 months, I am finally getting around to distributing many that have been here in the Dj School. I have always been searching for those people who are in need so, it may take time, but eventually I find the right people.

Many people and organizations here already get help and I prefer to find those who are in dire need. 

We have been contributing to Ruth’s project since January of 2017.  
I remember someone here in Rocinha referring me to her homeless animals project. I have always loved cats and dogs and I have 3 cats of my own. When walking through the community, you often see dogs or cats in the streets. Its difficult to figure out which ones are abandoned and which have owners. But my heart hurts seeing the way some people here treat animals. 

So our relationship began with Ruth contacting me if she needed help in regards to helping to pay for cat/dog food, Medicine or vet visits. I believe in documenting things as I think those people who donate money have every right to see that the money goes to the animals. Accountability and integrity are important if trust is to be gained and given to any organization. Especially if a project is soliciting donations of money. This hopefully will show others that they can trust us to distribute the donation to the proper project.

Ruth has always been good at documenting what she receives as she knows it will only attract more people to help her animals shelter. Below are photos of just some of the donations and the construction of her shelter. 

I remember visiting this plot of land wondering what it was. They had just finished the foundation. One of their 60 cats checking out the area.
Through our tourism project we were able to contribute to the purchase of about 300 bricks to help build the structure. Here they have put cement over the bricks to give the building more strength.
These people worked day and night to get this building put up. They put this up even after having the police come by one day to knock it all down thinking it was going to be some illegal structure. Ruth and her husband went to the police and explained their situation and got permission to put their animal shelter up.
This is the shelter but still in progress from the outside. This is about 30 meters away from Ruth's house so they animals will be well cared for and have their own place to eat, relax and have a lot more space.
Working on the upper walls from the inside of the structure. The key is to have good ventilation so the place stays cool and after cleaning, the floors can dry.

 It's almost finished. They will be completing the walls as they get more money.

A photo of her animals

Some of the donations:

And Vet visits:

The two below are two female cats who were neutered. It costs 50 reais here is Rocinha to get the cats fixed. 

And Ruth and her husband on their motorbike picking up bags of cat and dog food for their "family". I really enjoy seeing the progress of what they came from 6 months ago to now having a house just for the animals. If you want to donate in some way or volunteer with her project, please contact me and we can organize things here for you. 


I put an add on facebook in one of the Rocinha Facebook pages letting people know that I had some school supplies to donate. A woman who also has 24 cats who I have known for a while had contacted me about some children she knew that were in need of somethings. I have known Luiza for about 5 years. She finally came by my house to pick up the supplies two days ago. Luiza lives in the Valao, one of the poorest areas of the favela. So, I know the children she is helping are from this area.

The bag on school supplies that I gave her was full of many different things. She separated everything and put them into 5 different bags to give to each child.

The kids who received the supplies and a little about them.

Lucas Souza is 15 years old and in 9th grade in public school. He ended being held back one year because in 2015 he had tuberculosis which can be a big problem here in Rocinha. It takes about 6 months in total of being on medication to get rid of tuberculosis.  He is a good kid and loves to help him mom around the house and care for the many cats they have. His hobbies are reading and video games. His favorite games are Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, League of Legends and Magic. His goal is to work on the development of games and wants to learn English. 

Isabel Souza 13 years old and in 8th grade. Like her brother Lucas, she is a good kid who likes to help others. She loves the cats. Her dream is to learn Japanese and travel to Japan. She loves to read and is very dedicated to her studies.  

Angelo 4 years old and is entering into his first year of pre school. He is a very smart child. He comes from a big Capoeira family and is always wearing his Capeira uniform since he knew how to walk.

Miguel 11 years old and is an extrovert and happy child. He loves to play football and has a passion for drawing and art. He is in 6th grade and enjoys school. 

Lindalva is 15 years old. She is very smart but has a hearing deficiency. She has encountered many challenges in public schools where she is studying at the 9th grade level. Her passion is to sew and make clothing. She likes to make clothing for her siblings. She makes all her clothing by hand as she does not have a sewing machine. 

I want to thank those who have donated to projects here. Without you, this is not possible. We will continue to try to help as many people possible here. If you have interest to visit Rocinha or donate something to one of the many projects here please contact us at: