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Post from Right to the City - Brazil

Right to the City - Brazil | Projects | Brazil Travel Blog | Updates

  • We began day 9 preparing for our afternoon brainstorm/exchange between us and youth from Rio's Favel Arte Foto, Favela Da Rocinha and Observatório de Favelas in Vidigal. Our group met over breakfast in our hotel for a few hours. We prepped questions and conversation topics we would later exercise with the members of various Rio favelas that were meeting with us at Vidigal. Our coaches taught us appropriate and respectful methods on how to ask questions of our guests for the afternoon session. We also planned possible ice breaker games to use if necessary. The 10 of us then participated in an activity where we paired off and interviewed one another about our communities at home. This taught us the challenges of carrying forward a conversation with someone we did not know very well in a natural way, and trying to free the conversation of assumptions.

    After we finished preparing for the afternoon, we walked to a lunch spot a few blocks from our hotel. We ate at a traditional cafeteria style restaurant where you pay by weight. Many different foods are set up in a buffet style, and you can take as much or as little food as you desire. Once we were all full, we walked back to the hotel and got into cabs that took us to Vidigal.

    At Vidigal, we were greeted by Eduardo Carvalho (14) and Felipe Paiva (27). Eduardo is from Rocinha and Felipe is a native of Vidigal. We spoke to them briefly while we waited to meet our other two guests. A few minutes later, Pamela Souzza (23) and Raul Santiago (23) arrived from Alemao. We all walked through the favela together. We exchanged hellos and smiles with residents of Vidigal as we explored this hilly favela. We saw a local park that was built by favela residents. They transformed an area that used to be a dump into a beautiful garden that has an amazing view of Ipanema Beach. After reaching the park, we climbed even higher into the favela. We stopped for some water at a shack right next to a community center filled with children playing games from ping-pong to soccer. Next, we walked (some of the boys even ran) up the last steep hill of our walk that day. We reached the highest point of Vidigal. The view was absolutely spectacular. We took some photos and rested before making our descent back down the favela.

    We walked down a completely different way than we came up. On the way up, we stayed on main roads and saw many sights within Vidigal. Whereas on the way down, we walked through side streets that held mainly homes. We reached a classroom where we all sat down to debrief on the day, along with discussing many other pressing issues. We split into two groups, each with 5 students, 2 favela residents and 2 adults. My group had the pleasure of speaking with Pamela and Raul. They gave us introductions on their lives and explained the work they are currently doing. We learned how these two young social activists have already made a huge impact on their communities. Pamela teaches young children about sustainability through fashion. She designs clothing made out of recycled materials and then the children from her favela model the clothing. The project is a way to bring attention to the rich culture that is coming from favelas out into Rio. We also discussed questions ranging from, “How do people in various favelas connect with one another?” to “What forms of technology do people in favelas use to communicate?” They provided us with great information that will really be a resource for our work back in Cambridge. We met for about an hour and a half with everyone. After exchanging contact information with one another, we boarded a van to take us back to Ipanema.

    The shared van we boarded street-side was an example of the semi-formal businesses that exist in Rio. The van fills up with about 15 people and you pay a fee depending on how far you will ride. A woman stands at the externace of the van where she charges people as they enter the van. The van then stops at desired locations requested by patrons or travels until someone on the street hails the van via a hand gesture. On our ride, every few minutes new passengers entered and exited the van. Once we reached Ipanema, we walked around the beach area for a little while. The clouds were thickening in the distance, and just before it started to rain, we walked to the subway and headed back to Copacabana. We had a pizza dinner at a cafe outside and then headed back to the hotel for the night after a long day. We all got to bed fairly early because we had an early start to wake up for the next day.