Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finding reliable help

Me and my silly cat Fuzzy who likes to Dj..


And im not talking about domestic help. As most people know, I work in tourism and its very frustrating trying to find reliable people. But theres is that saying that goes "nobody will ever care more for your business than you". This is so true! I prefer to hire people from inside the favela but its dificult. The major problem is that I can only offer somebody part time work as I dont have enough work. Most people have full time work so the last thing they want is more work when they have time off. Working in tourism is like any other work. It work! But I see a pattern where people dont take it serious. They think its like play time or the dont respect tourists time restrictions. My american side always believes in the customer first because without them, I dont get paid.


Showing up late, to me is not showing respect for other persons time. I have only been late twice since I started tours over 5 years ago. The most I was ever late was 7 minutes. I apologized to my guests who didnt seem to notice but still, I hate being late.


I love my work and I am very appreciative and thankful for all the good karma that has come my way in the last 3 years especially.


I think I have figured out why some guys have this lack of responsibility. The experiences I am talking about are dealing with men, not women. Brazilian guys in general are lazy. Let me explain. Americans, once they turn about 18 are encouraged to be more independant and either go to work or school. In Brazil, I know guys 30 or 40 still living with their parents. So, I see this as a negative because Brazilian guys who live at home with their parents seem to mature later. These are jusy MY observations.


When you live with mommy and daddy and you dont pay rent, food or other bills, they wash your clothes and cook you food, its easy to not be as motivated..


I have two examples, Leo who is 21, still lives with his parents, says he wants a job but his actions show different. He doesnt pay any bills. He has a cell phone but never calls people. People call him, which I think is strange. He shows up late or not at all. I sent him a text message a few days ago about work, he never showed up, no message, nothing. This is not the kind of guy who deserves a job because hes not motivated. The shame in all of this is that he speaks fluent English.


Dembore is a totally different guy. He came to Rio 10 months ago from Minas Gerais. He came to make a better life for himself and his girlfriend. When he was working for me, he also held down a second job at night as a waiter in a hotel. Since beginning of October, he has quit the other job and is now only working with me. Dembore lives with his girlfriend who has a part time job and is involved with theatre productions. He lives on his own, not under his parents roof. He pays rent, electricity, water, cable and internet. He ALWAYS shows up ontime and most times is early. He drinks minimally in his off time and his actions show responsibility.


Dembore is 24, only 3 years older than Leo but there is a huge difference is how they live their lives. Leo is the life of the party with very little responsibility and Dembore is in bed at midnight most nights to rest for the next days work.


I have gone through 5 tour guides working with me in the last 2 years and its been very frustrating, but now I think I have a keeper in Dembore. He is also a dj and loves being involved in the dj school. Thank goodness I have finally found a person of quality that wants to grow with the expansion of the dj school and loves making tours here.


Leo needs to take life more seriously. He needs to get off his mothers tit and grow up. But im not his daddy..Some things you need to figure out on your own.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Police Occupation and UPP


Copa para os ricos e a UPP para os pobres! The Copa (world cup) for the rich, the UPP's for the poor!


The twenty-eighth Pacifying Police Unit (UPP) in Rio de Janeiro, was installed last month, the 20th, one of Latin America's largest favelas, Rocinha.


The installation of the UPP in the community is the continuity of real war operation, preceded with the help of the Special Operations Battalion (BOPE), Shock Battalion and Navy officers nearly a year ago. I have mixed feelings about being under occupation by a corrupt and unfriendly police force. The do not make any attempt to befriend the residents and can be very hostile and agressive to residents here. About 98% of the residents here are hard working honest people who just make very little money and have no other option but to live in the favela.


The favela was already partially occupied by the forces of BOPE and Military Police, with an effective range of 400 men. However, the inauguration of this UPP which will feature nine bases distributed throughout the community, with a staff of more than 700 police officers, a comprehensive system of monitoring and patrolling 24 hours, consolidates the occupation and allows to form a system of control and surveillance lot higher against residents.


"Officers from UPP Rocinha count with the help of 100 monitoring cameras installed throughout the community, and 12 motorcycles, considered fundamental to patrol the hundreds of alleys that cut through the favela. The command of the UPP will be in charge of Major Édson Raimundo dos Santos, who heads the same actions from the beginning of the permanent occupation by the police. "(Network Brazil Current, 9/24/2012).


The installation of the base in Rocinha is a key part of the plan to besiege the city, isolating neighborhoods "noble" poor areas. The favela is in the heart of the South Zone and separates the neighborhoods of Ipanema and Leblon from the region of São Conrado and Barra da Tijuca, and the UPP in Rocinha, the government intends to form a corridor that would link the neighborhoods of the south and this region, providing a key step in the formation of a sort of "Green Zone" in the city, similar to deployed by the U.S. invasion in the city of Baghdad.


The occupation, therefore, is a landmark of political repression and violence against the poor communities of Rio, organized directly by the government and the right to promote speculation and repress the population. Moreover, while the occupation is a hallmark of that policy, it is also a challenge to the bourgeoisie with a great chance of failing.


The experience with the occupation in other communities, such as the Complexo do Alemao, City of God, etc., clearly showed that the population is not willing to live with the wrongdoings by the military in the hills. What the capitalist press sought to present as a combat drug trafficking in reality proved a real dictatorship against the people and a policy of favoring contractors, as well as crime, trafficking and crime continue to exist only otherwise directly controlled by the police. There still exists drug trafficking here but its more hidden and the police are part of it happening. They take their bribes from the traffickers every month as like before.


Hundreds of demonstrations and clashes followed the occupations in almost all favelas. Allegations of abuse of power, indiscriminate violence, torture and theft practiced by the UPP police were recorded in areas of hostility and occupations of residents police presence is total. These incidents are happening every day but not being reported in the main stream news. I hear of cases of police abuse at least 2-3 times a week, usually against innocent people who have nothing to do with any illegal activity.


To occupy and control a community inhabited by over 200,000 people in an area of ​​840 thousand square meters steeped in abject poverty and poverty is only a policy that will result in the confrontation with the people, politics is a fascist, certainly desperate to increase further the unwillingness of the public against the police and will inevitably lead to a complete demoralization.


The UPP therefore has the sole purpose of controlling and monitoring the population of Rocinha, suppress poverty and meet the plans of the bourgeoisie who want to profit from the increased social segregation in the city.


My fear is once the olympic games and world cup are finished, that the police units will leave and there will be a fight for Rocinha for selling drugs by one of the three gangs that dominate Rio's drug sales.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Challenges of having a NGO


Living in Rocinha can be one of the best places to start a project/NGO. It can also be complicated.


No matter where you are in the world, people are people. Some are good, some are bad. Rocinha is like any other place where all types of People exist. We have oportunists here too. Living in a close knit comunity, people talk, so you have to learn to play the game. After O Globo showed the piece on tv about SPIN ROCINHA, we got alot of attention about the project.


As always the comunity and the residents association support any projects that can help the comunity. The Dj school has always been my dream and I know the responsibility it takes to run this project. I am hesitant to accept any kind of help from any kind of govermental organization. My project is about art through music. I dont want to be connected to anything goverment. Corruption is everywhere and if people can take advantage, they will. Our CASA DE CULTURA that received a grant from Gilberto Gil in the early 2000's is shut down. I would like to know what happened to the 700.000 reais that was given to the project by the Culture Minister. There are other stories of situations like this but this happens everywhere in Brazil, not just favela comunities.


Other countries are easier to deal with, especially those with less corruption. I am happy to say that the people who have helped my project more than anyone is the Americans. When they see a good, honest project, they want to help. I had one donation a year ago from a German man. Becase of his donation, we were able to buy a computer. This is why I take fotos and films of the kids playing. I want people to know my project is sincere and it really exists. There are many scammers out there trying to rip people off.


Lately, I have experienced some pressure from one of the Dj school students to get SPIN ROCINHA registered as a legal NGO here in Brasil. I am doing my research about this but I am taking my time to read all the pros and cons to doing this in Brasil.


The student getting pushy about things and even mentioned about talking with the comunity goverment here. I had to tell him that he needs to slow down and let me deal with this. I finally had to tell him to stop and that the project is only 11 months old. I guess he did not like what I had to say and has decided to take time away from the Dj school. He wrote me a message explaining that he wanted time to himself. His choice and I told him, ok. I started getting the feeling that this student was trying to control me and tell me what to do. Every class he would aproach me and talk about this. Finally, I had enough of him being pushy.


What I am seeing is a pattern of people trying to affiliate some way with this project for their own gain. I had this in the beginning too with another person. This project SPIN ROCINHA, is about the students, not money. The classes are for free and NO money is earned from this project. If money is received through a donation, it is spent on equipment for the school. And everybody in the school will know about it. I want to keep everything transparent and honest. This is my project for the development of the students through the art of Dj'ing. Once the word is out there, people want to be associated with you. I need to watch the people who are trying to take advantage. No matter where in the world, you need to protect whats important!


Just thought I would write what is on my mind.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Giving Thanks!

I have been away from the blog for sometime. I need to get back if even once or twice a month so keep up with demands of people who want to know more about Rocinha. Life has been very busy for me. I am now making tours about 4 to 5 times a week which is great even though it is low season here. I went to some website and read reviews about my tours. It makes e very happy that visitors have enjoyed their visit to my favela. The dj school is doing great. We have about 18 students and we are operating 6 days a week from 7-10pm..Sundays is a day of rest. I am still getting telephone calls from the report O Globo did about SPIN ROCINHA. But lack of space is a big problem here. Today I went outside walking around looking for spaces available for the future becase I know the school is going to only grow more. For now, the Dj school is in a space that used to be my bedroom. The room can comfortably hold about 7-8 people at a time. So, the way I decided to accomodate all the students is to have them chose 2 nights a week that they can come. So each class has 4-5 students. My idea is to save money to eventually buy a place here in the favela. My dream place would be a house with three floors. The first floor would be the dj school and recording studio, second floor, my living space and third floor would be space for visitors volunteering in the favela. The roof would be used to make parties and to enjoy the view. I have had people aproach me about helping but I am hesitant to take this help becase as we all know, its very rare that somebody offers money without wanting something in return. I dont like or trust politicians as here in Brazil they are only out for their own interests. I dont ever want to owe anybody anything, including favors! Its a fact here, most politicians are corrupt. I know the direction that I want to take with this dj school. I would rather it take longer and its done right than to rush things. I am not going here. Considering SPIN ROCINHA has only been around for 11 months, things are ahead of schedule. Now, back to the title of this blog post. I am very thankful for all the good things that have happened to me especially starting from 2010 to now. Work is going great and for that I am especially thankful! Without tourism, I would not have a Dj school here. For all of you who have visited Rocinha, I need to give you a BIG thank you! Becase visits have increased here, I now have been able to give one of my friends a part time job helping me. His name is Eden and he is a resident of Rocinha and has a website promoting everything that is about Rocinha. His website is: ok, gotta go now clean and set up the Dj school for classes tonight.. any questions can be directed to:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

O FRACASSO DA UPP: Ocupação da Favela da Rocinha sob suspeita

Uma grave denúncia.

A pergunta é, como se combater o crime se os servidores da segurança do Rio de Janeiro recebem o PIOR salário do Brasil, e um péssimo treinamento ?

Ok, baixo salário não justifica corrupção, mas o policial receber um salário miserável (o pior do Brasil) acaba estando fragilizado, e portas da corrupção que deveriam estar fechadas acabam sendo abertas.

Nunca se vai resolver o problema da segurança no Rio de Janeiro, quando não se investir e valorizar o policial, isso é fato.

E digo mais, não é só na Favela da Rocinha que isso está acontecendo, em todas as comunidades ditas "pacificadas" o tráfico de drogas está rolando solto, e aí ? E como ?

Ocupada pela polícia há quatro meses, a favela da Rocinha, na zona Sul do Rio, está longe de ser considerada uma área pacificada. Nos últimos dois meses, foram registrados oito assassinatos à bala, parte deles, suspeita-se, ligada diretamente à disputa pelo controle da venda de drogas, que persiste, apesar de enfraquecida depois da prisão do chefão Antônio Francisco Bonfim Lopes, o Nem. Desta semana revela detalhes de uma investigação que mostra que o velho mecanismo que associava traficantes e policiais militares pode estar mais ativo do que supõe quem acompanha a “pacificação” apenas olhando a favela a partir do asfalto.

A secretaria de Segurança do Rio apura denúncia de que policiais militares estariam recebendo propina do tráfico. Um dossiê produzido pela coordenadoria de Inteligência da Polícia Civil aponta inclusive as cifras da corrupção policial. De acordo com o documento, o pagamento consiste numa "entrada" de 200 000 reais, seguida por um "mensalinho" de 80.000 reais por mês. Os valores comprariam a tranquilidade para manter o comércio de drogas sem interferência da polícia nas ruas internas e becos. Enquanto isso, o patrulhamento ficaria restrito às vias principais da favela e acontece sem a exibição de fuzis.

Hoje, dois ex-braços direitos de Nem travam uma guerra pelo comando da quadrilha. O traficante Amaro Pereira da Silva, conhecido como Neto, 30 anos, responde pela venda de drogas no parte próxima ao asfalto - a mais lucrativa. Um ex-comparsa do chefão preso, Inácio de Castro Silva, 32 anos, atua na parte alta da Rocinha e é suspeito de ser o mentor do assassinato do líder comunitário Vanderlan Barros de Oliveira, o Feijão.

UPP e propina - Em setembro do ano passado, outro esquema de pagamento de propina a policiais veio à tona na UPP dos morros da Coroa, Fallet e Fogueteiro, no bairro de Santa Teresa. Assim como na Rocinha, os traficantes subornavam os policiais com o intuito de contar a conivência da UPP na venda de drogas. O comandante da unidade, inaugurada seis meses antes, acabou sendo afastado. A mesada dos PMs variava de 400 reais a 2.000 reais, de acordo com as patentes e o grau de influência na UPP.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Random Stuff to think about..

I believe that the lack of empathy and understanding from outsiders remains a big obstacle to long-term improvement of life in the favelas.


This statement says a lot about society. I do not think anybody wants to be raise in poverty. When we are born, we really do not have choice what class we are born into. I never asked my parents to be born here in Rocinha, it just happened. Rocinha is a place like any that a child would not know anything diferent unless taken outside of Rocinha. I just thought everybody lived like me. It was around 12 years old that I could see and understand that we had diferent classes of people depending on how much money you made. My father tried to protect me from seeing the realities outside of the favela becase he was ashamed of his own circumstances. I remember the first time leaving the favela to go to centro to meet some my fathers friends and seeing a public bathroom and places and how diferent it was from the favela shocked me.

As a kid going to school I was made fun of because of where I lived. I went to a public school where there was a mix of kids. There were basically two classes of people in the public schools, those of us from "the hill" or favela, and those that were from the "asfalto" or formal city. We were the “favelados” or slumdwellers. The rich always went to private schools and did not want to mix with the lower classes. Still, in public schools the non favela kids who were poor but not favela poor, still made fun of us. I guess they felt better becase they could pick on us. I am sure looking back that they got picked on by the upper class kids, so this was a continuation for them to pick on us. A cruel cycle but reality. Being from the favela was just one step up from being homeless or living on the street. If I look at it that way, I am so happy I had a home, favela or not, I had roof over my head, oportunity for school, and some food in my stomach.

We had little but we made do. I had one pair of shoes that I was only allowed to wear to school and otherwise I wore sandals. My father wanted our shoes to last. As my three brothers grew older, shoes and clothes if in good condition were handed down. I remember owned 1 jacket, 1 hat, 4 t-shirts, 1 nice slacks for church, 1 nice button shirt, three shorts, 4 underwear and 2 socks. We ate 1 large meal a day and one snack or small meal. We had acess to Jaca fruit which we ate everyday becase you could eat it off the tree. Every meal had rice and beans. On a good day we had chicken or fish. Rarely did we eat red meat becase it was too expensive for us. Life was simple and predictable.

The area I was raised to what is now Rua 1 high up on the hill, was mostly barracos or shacks of wood. We lived in a two room shack all 6 of us. The bathroom was outside and we had to shower outside in our underwear. A shower was two buckets of water, one to get wet and soap up, the other to clean off the soap. This was life and you get used to it. We had no eletricity, just lamps and candles. We finally got a Tv hookup when I was about 9. He had to run a wire from a neighbors house to get power. My father loved radio and Pagode music, so at least we had noise in the house. The radio was battery operated.

When I was about 11, we moved into a larger more stable house. It was what I called it the “half and half”. I told my friends that if they wanted to find my house just look for the brown and rust colored, half and half. It was a joke but true, our house was half wood, half brick. So, it was easy to find. We were in a beco that was made of dirt becase cement roads where we were, was not common. In the rains the dirt road would become mud and dangrously slippery.

The house was four small rooms, two bedrooms, one for my parents and the other for us four kids. My father was a construction worker who build level beds for us, one on top of each other. There was a small eating/living room area and small bathroom with a toilet and shower. Outside the side door of the house was a tiny sink with a small tacked to the wall mirror, to wash hands or shave. We did not have windows, just sheets of plastic we would use to keep the rain out. We had a small fridge, sink and hot plate type thing that plugged into the wall. Very few people at that time had stoves, like they do today. We had eletricity but it was minimal and did not always work. My father bought kerosne lamps as a backup. We often studied by candle light. Water was inconsistant and you could not drink it. There were days when we had no water which was dificult to wash clothes, shower or clean dishes. Often we would go to neighbors as this was life in a favela.

We did finally get a small used television but we did not watch it much. My mother ruled the tv in the nighttime inviting neighbors over to watch the novelas. Most of the time we were studying or playing outside when she watched tv. That was her time for socialization and connection with community. She also liked to sew and make clothes. She was a English teacher so she had plenty of work but liked being around the house too to take care of us.

Development in my area was slow until a huge migration of people especially from the northeast of Brazil, in the late 70’s came to Rocinha. Then some major building took place in many areas of the favela. Everywhere you walked people were busy building, tearing down, creating some sort of house. It was exciting but also crazy time. Strange accents and expressions were heard and with this migration brought crime. Mostly petty crime but still bothersome to the existing residents.

The drug gangs came into power around this same time and instituted rules in the favela. Since the goverment and police never came here anyways, the drug guys took control of the neighborhoods and set the rules, no stealing, raping or killing inside the favela. I am not sure on the exact details becase I was a kid, but the dealers set up a coexistence with the police. The police were not to enter the neighborhood, and the dealers would keep peace among the residents. This was also a time of tension becase the residents association which was formed in 1961 and established, was not sure what to make of the drug gang. The drug gang bought hearts and minds by aiding some of the poorest residents by providing food and necessities. Also many in the drug gang were “cria” or from the favela.

Interesting dynamic it is and far more complicated than I can explain here. The drug gang became the parallel power and filled the role of the goverment. The gang built community centers and had simple roads paved. If you live in the community what would you think? After years of being neglected and shunned by the goverment, who do you turn to? The gang filled that role. I wouldn’t say people were happy about it, but they accepted it. What else could they do?

For me, school was never fun and it was dificult to make friends. The kids from Rocinha stuck together and the non favela kids had their groups. I hated this becase I wanted to learn about others and make friends. Reading was my favorite subject. I did make some friends from outside of Rocinha, but never did I get to visit their homes or create real friendships with them. It was all superficial. And it was like in my face they liked me but if they were with another non favela kid, they would pretend they did not like me. Weird peer pressure.

Its kind of sad becase in youth is where prejudices are born. It where people learn to hate. As I said in another Blog entry that is in another place: ignorance + fear = hate. How true. So sad becase understanding and learning is what we need. Why cant favelados and asfaltos be friends? Again it goes back to education!

The outside world sees favelas as a place where people have stolen everything. To them we have taken electricity, water, land and do not pay taxes. Favelas are places where "those kind of people" live, dirty, theives, uneducated etc..And there is some truth to that, but rarely do people want to know the "why"???? Why do favelas exist?

We lets start with a history lesson, the goverment promised soldiers who were freed slaves, that if they fought in the war of Canudos (1893-1897) in Bahia, that they would provide these soldiers with jobs and housing. After this war, many migrated to larger cities in the south of brasil. Areas like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo brought many people with the hopes of jobs. People were able to find jobs but could not find afordable housing. When the soldiers asked the goverment for help, the goverment turned to the hills pointed and said "build your houses there". So, the people did just that without goverment help. The first official settlement was in dowtown Rio in a area called “Morro de Favela” after the plant that grew there on the hill. Later the first “favela” was named "Morro da Providencia" or Providence Hill. Morro da Providencia still exists today in dowtown Rio de Janeiro.

If a favela is without government control or structure, it is obvious that services like water, eletricity, sanitation and proper sewer systems will not exist. If the government does not even recognize you enough to put your community (of 250.000+ people) on a map, that says a lot about discrimnation. So, then where does the community get these things? Well several places. In Rocinha the Estrada da Gavea was paved in 1939 way before Rocinha was favelized (if that is a word). Back then it was a small community of farms where vegetables were sold and car races used to run up and down the estrada. Eletricity was brought to the main street by the influence of the catholic church, who was instrumental in the 1950’s to getting services for the people who settled there. Today there is formal eletricity to most of the residents but not all. The company called “Light” is located at the bottom of the hill near the pasarella. If you are one of the residents who lives deep in a beco, you probably run a “gato” or line to your neighbors and get power from them. But in turn that person’s light bill is higher, so nobody gets for FREE! I am sure there are people who have rigged the system and do steal, but that is a minority.

Water has always been in Rocinha but acess has not always been easy. There is a water source deep in the woods close to Portao Vermelho and other areas higher up where water is pumped by CEDAE, which is a municiple company. The majority of residents have water but still problems occur. Two months ago I went 2 days without water and had to use neighbors facilities.

Sewage is more dificult to understand as it exists but there are many open places where sewage is visable and contributes to health hazards for residents. There is a open sewer ditch in a area called the Valao, instead of building that PAC project of the futebol field/swimming pool next to the samba school, they should cover the Valao! There are pipes you can see that criss cross the hill but nothing like the USA where you never see or hear it.

Sanitation and garbage pick up a problem. There are areas on the side of the road desgnated for pick up. The prefeitura is supposed to pick up the garbage 2 times a day, but rarely do they.The residents also need education about not littering in the becos or small alleyways deep in the favela. But it starts with having garbage cans available for people to put garbage in! The residents association does have people who they hire to clean the streets. I would think it would be easier for them to clean if there were garbage cans around. I walked one day for about 30 minutes before I found a garbage can. Garbage on the streets and in the becos also attracts rats!

As far as taxes, well in Rio, if you make under 1.300 reais a month you do not pay taxes. The majority of favelados that I know make from $500-$800 reais a month. So, that explain the taxes situation. And with that little money, where else could you live but a FAVELA!

Many of the services came about due to the residents association and the influence of the church. They both fought for attention to be brought to the community. The services are still substandard but are better than nothing.

If somebody does not understand the community or have fear, they create a dislike automatically and avoid. This is how I feel the asfalto world looks at the favelas. Better to avoid and marginalize, than to include in everyday society. This is where opportunity comes in. Who has it, and who does not? The people in power distribute that opportunity according to one’s worth. In Rio, monetary worth, specifically, where you live. If I live in Gavea or Barra de Tijuca, automatically, I am seen as a person of value and opportunities of all types are “given” without question, to me.

If I am from Rocinha or another favela, I am seen as a person not of value. Instead I am seen as a servant to service the upper classes.

Opportunity changes things dramatically. But opportunity comes in diferent ways. Education is number one! They say in Brasil, everybody has the right to education and that is true, but the quality of education is what everybody deserves. The favelado gets minimum education that prepares him to be a “servant” for the rest of his life!

If a person has access to decent education, they can change their life. How much, is dependent on what society will allow. What I mean by this is if a guy from the favela is smart enough to become a doctor through all the schooling necessary, will he be given the chance to practice? Or will he be not valued just becase he comes from the favela? Hard to say on that becase the few who do make it to that level, have to lie and deny their roots just to get ahead. I am certainly not close to that level, but in my past I lied about where I was from, becase the media constantly pumps negative images about favelas in the news. Who would want to say they are from such a horrible place.

So now back to this statement:
I believe that the lack of empathy and understanding from outsiders remains a big obstacle to long-term improvement of life in the favelas.

There is much truth in this, but I feel there needs to be exchange on both parts, favela and asfalto. Only the next generations can change perspectives about how each are viewed. The outside needs to get to know and understand people of the favelas. And the favelados need to give them the chance to get to know them.

Mixed Thoughts

I made this post just before the police invasion on Nov 13, 2011

I have been reading a lot lately about favelas and Brazil’s opinion of them. Afer living here in my youth and now returning, I certainly have a diferent perspective on things. Interesting how ideas opinions change as we age. I observe more what people say and their body language.

I think I can say that the majority of those who live outside of favelas have absolutely NO IDEA of what goes on here. There only views are those that which the news spits to them each night. It is the same old prejudices, crime, drug trafic and violence. I just don’t see all that exagerated stuff here, and YES I live right in the middle of it all. There are crimes here but crimes is everywhere. Rocinha has a estimated population of about 300,000 people, so of course there will be bad people too.

Yes, it is true that traficantes live here and in the open walk armed with high powered weapons, but last night while taking a walking break, I sat myself down to smoke a cigarette. Right by the entrance of the beco where I live, two dealers hopped off mototaxis and stood not more than 2 meters in front of me just standing observing things. I just sat there observing. I notice one of them was wearing expensive jewelry and had his hair dyed blonde which is very common here. The other had brown hair with the top of his head spiked with blonde highlights. Both of them were about 18-20 years old. I have not seen anyone who appears to be under 17 years old carrying a gun here. So the idea that there are 8 to 12 year olds running around here in Rocinha with guns is just plain stupid.

I am really getting to dislike people (asfaltos) who judge me negatively because I live in a favela. The prejudice is right out in the open and people will call you “favelado” which is a negative word if said by somebody outside the favela. Their image is that everybody who lives in a favela is stupid, dirty and a theif. I think every place has these types of people. So the word favelado is used by outsiders to describe the things I just mentioned.

For me favelado just means somebody who lives in a favela.

But I can say, I do not feel fear as I am a resident here. Now I must say, I would prefer the favela without them (drug dealers), but the reality is much different. I accept this as “it is what it is”. But for those Brazilians who only read papers or listen to the news, they need to visit or live in a favela to really understand how the comunity works here. There is so much more to the favela than the drugs, guns and crime.

Another thing I have noticed is that people do not complain here. They have much they could complain about, but they do not. The residents are happy and just go about their lives. I am sure they do complain becase we all do, but it is not out in the open. And you actually see people smiling here. Not like in the USA where people are spoiled and everything is fastfood “I want it now”, mentality. Also here people I can say good morning to them and they respond positively, unlike in the US, where people think you want something from them and turn away in fear of you. From living here, it is true, Americans overall fear each other and here in Brazil, especially the favela, I just do not see that. I really think Americans need to come to a place like Rocinha so they can appreciate how good they have it in the US. I do not have much, but I am thankful for everything I have.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

20 Janeiro 2012 meeting of DJ's na Rocinha

Jan 20th Patrick Alves organized a meeting of dj's in the favela. Over 25 dj's from the comunity showed up and took their turns playing for about 30-40 minutes..Every Sunday they have a pagode party on rua nova or the new street from 6pm until midnight..we met on a friday afternoon at 4pm and various dj's got to play everything from hip hop, funk, pagode, top 40 and anything else you could think of. The place where we played was in front of a bar so our crew attracted a lot of attention and music always brings out many people from the favela. I am sure the bar was happy.

I brought my cdj's and patrick brought turntables, mixer and speakers. The bar hooked us up to electricity to get us going. Big shout outs to Patrick for organizing this event, Dj Markao de Charme, Dj Bola, Dj Fernado Nere, Sem Terra, Dj Ramon and many others. We are planning another one very soon..

I want to thank all the tourists that I received in january and february as witout you, this dj school would not exist. I was able to buy some nice speakers for the school. We are growing the school slowly with students and equipment. Eventually it would be nice to have a sponsor for equipment so I can use the money from tourism to buy a permanent location for SPIN ROCINHA..

Update on SPIN R0CINHA

Our students finally had the opportunity to play outside the favela. Garyt Lineback a mutual friend, works for VALE, a mining company and the second largest company in Brazil.

So, on 12th of November 2011, we met at the bottom of the hill at 12 noon, Vinny. Johnathan, Ariel, myself and Garyt to head out to some far off place about 75 minutes out of the city of Rio. It was a sitio out in Recreio dos Bandeirantes. A BBQ party for middle to upper class brazilians to be dj'ed by students from the favela.

This is good exposure for the students to get used to playing in front of crowds. About 1 hour after we arrived Andre our 12 year old student arrived with his father on the back of his fathers motobike. Everybody got a chance to play various styles of music and to show their skills.

Vale also made donation of rice, beans and other foods to give to projects we have in the favela. I gave some to the kids to bring home and to the daycare just on the otherside of my street. I want to thank Garyt and Vale for having SPIN ROCINHA to play their party. I hope this is the begining of great things to come for the students of our dj school..

***a sidenote...the day following this party on 13 of November, the armed forces and over 3000 police took over the slum without a shot fired. Still a shocking thing for me to watch at 4:09am military tanks and men in fatigues with big military assault rifles roll by my front door..