Sunday, October 15, 2017

Guerreiros do Corte Strike again!

Foto: Folha de Sao Paulo

The favela of Rocinha in the last 3 weeks has been going through a “war” like situation with 2 gangs of drug dealers fighting over territory to sell their drugs. The dealers have been active since the early 1980’s so this is nothing new. But outright shootings on a daily basis is not the norm in Rocinha. The last time a conflict like this happened was in 2004. So, for 13 years the favela existed in virtual peace with very few shootings or conflicts.

Now add the police and the military presence into the mix and now you have a bomb waiting to explode. This has affected the most vulnerable in the community- the residents who have nothing to do with this. Often you hear on the streets “This is not our war, it’s between them, we just happen to live here”.

Those most affected are the workers who end up trapped in their homes unable to leave without risking a bullet in their back. Everyone needs to work. Stories have circulated of residents losing jobs or being fired because they can’t get to work. Over 10,000 children in the community have not been able to go to school or daycare. Businesses in certain areas cannot open due to constant gunfire.
People wonder when it will all stop. When will stability in the favela arrive?

What the community needs is hope and positivity. No child, youth or adult should have to live in these conditions. So when the “Guerreiros do Corte” decided to hold their event today it was a breath of fresh air to see the community come together to help those less fortunate who have struggled through these difficult times. 

Regardless of the still existing tensions in the favela, 4 young people decided to run an event. Their event was called “TONELADA”. 

The 4 young men responsible for putting this together were, Rômulo Saad, 22, Igor Barreto, 26, Roger Borges, 23 and Julio Dias, 15. Amazing what these young men have done.

The idea is to collect 1 ton of food to distribute later to the more needy parts of the favela. The significance was to offer haircuts in exchange for people to bring 1 kilogram of non-perishable food. In exchange the person would get a free hair cut. 

They had white T-Shirts with their event name to distinguish the over 30 barbers from the “clients”. 

This is their 6th social action project that they have organized. This time they added a few women stylists and nail professionals to cater to the ladies. This is also a great marketing tool for these barbers and hair care professionals to promote their work and gain most customers.

They held the event at Emocoes, a warehouse type place that usually hosts huge Funk, Pagode and Forro parties of about 2000 people.

There were dj’s spinning the latest tunes and a live band. 

Young children had access to a trampoline, a mechanical bull and other activities. Hot dogs and soda were also provided for free. Local businesses in Rocinha helped to sponsor the event.

The barbers were ages 16 to about 35 years old. Most were locals from Rocinha but I spoke to a few who came by bus 2 hours from the Baixada Fluminense. Most of the barbers’ clients were young men or youth. 

The hairstylists for the women had a choice of hair, nails or eyebrow shaping. While the people were getting their treatments, the young children were off playing in the areas with the trampoline and received toys that were donated.

The 4 young men responsible for putting this together were, Rômulo Saad, 22, 
Igor Barreto, 26, Roger Borges, 23 and Julio Dias, 15. Amazing what these young 
men have done.

“This is a way of bringing the community together “ says Romulo Saad.

“We had a difficult childhood and understand how hard it is for kids in the favela.” 
Says Igor Barreto

“What we are doing is showing by example to keep boys from going down the wrong 
path in life.” Roger Borges commented

“It’s a big community party” says Mascot Julio Dias.

These 4 youth form the Guerreiros do Corte or Warrior Haircutters, from Rocinha, 
which is printed on their shirts for this event. The 4 sought out this profession as a 
way to stay away from the fate of many young men growing up in favelas who get involved in the drug trade.

They all met at different times at Bravos Salon a family barbershop on Street number 
1 at the top of Rocinha.

Romulo Saad began his training at 18 when he left Duque de Caxias and came to 
Rocinha to live with his father.  As soon as he arrived he contacted the Bravos 
Salon looking for an opportunity. He wanted a better life and thought Rocinha, 
with its population of almost 300,000 could offer him better job success.

Igor Barreto was born and raised in Rocinha. His girlfriend encouraged him to 
become a barber because he already showed a certain talent when he cut his 
father-in-laws hair. He got a job at the shop where friendships were made that 
resulted in this project being born.

Roger Borges, the “genius” of the group, at the age of 17 was given an ultimatum 
by his mother to get a job to support his newly pregnant wife. Now he owns his 
own house and is expecting his second child.

Julio Dias or “mascot” is living with his mother and grandmother and is is high school. 
In his off time has opened up his own place inside his house. He got started 
practicing on his young cousins. And did some apprentice type work at the 
barbershop under the guidance of the more experienced barbers.

The 3 have their own barbershop on Street number 1. Mascot is still in training 
so he doesn’t cut professionally yet. And he is still a minor. The shop opens in 
the afternoon and stays open until about midnight.

Each earn their own money and can earn up to 2,000 reais a month. The 3 are 
popular and word has gotten out in the community about these young go getters. 
The owner of a tattoo studio drew pictures of the to put in the shop as a promotion 
for their business.

The three chose to get tattoos with references to their profession.  Borges tattooed 
a hair machine, razors and “GDC” (Guerreiros do Corte). Barretos paid homage to his grandfather by having his initials flanked by scissors. Saad honored a friend who 
lost his life through crime.  His friend encouraged him to keep with his job. He said 
“Go work, get your life”.

A haircut in Rocinha costs between 15-18 reais. Through TONELADA, the residents 
with their food contribution pay between 3-5 reais, which is about the cost of one 
kilo of rice or beans. At the end of this event, the group hopes that their actions will 
inspire others to become barbers or will motivate others to seek out a positive path in 
their lives.

Here are some of the "warriors" at work! 

Rocinha: My Likes and dislikes

People often ask me why I love Rocinha. There are many reasons to love this place so I am going to write. But I am also going to write what I don't like. With these blog posts I hope to help educate people who want to learn about favela life.

Things I like:

The friendly people and animals- any day walking in the favela, I meet people who greet you and want to stop and talk. When I am not working, I always stop and talk to people. I enjoy being part of something bigger than me. When I lived outside of Brasil, I never met people as friendly as those here. The community overall has a good vibe or feeling to it. Even with challenges people have, its not a miserable place. Also most of the dogs and cats are friendly. I have a route that I walk almost every day and I see the same cats who greet me and want attention. I love it and they love it too! Many street animals get little or no attention.

The cats need love and cuddles too!

Jody has this dog Bella who follow him and loves attention. They are buddies.

Everything is close by- So, true. Within 5 minutes walking distance there a internet cafe, three hair cutting shops, 3 variety stores with a good selection of food, one is open until 10:00pm the other is directly across from my house is open until 2:00am. Theres a mini market across from my street that is open from 6:00am until 2:00am. Bus stops are close by.  Fresh baked bread you can find less than 3 minutes from my house at two bakeries. Two butcher shops if you want fresh meat, poultry or fish.

Alex da Peixaria has the best place to buy all types of fish in Rocinha.

The over 6500 businesses- You do not need to leave the favela for anything, theres everything you would ever need here inside. The newest thing to come to Rocinha is the growth of Sushi shops. We have about 10 places now that serve Sushi from the top to the bottom of the favela. Electronics, furniture, clothing, bars, restaurants, real estate offices, you name it, we have it!

Casas Bahia are all over Brazil. They are equal to "Best Buy" store in the US.

Bob's Burgers is also a franchise fast food chain on Estrada da Gavea, Rocinha

The decent transport- as mentioned before we have two bus routes that operate from 4:30am until about 3:00am. Its not perfect, but in regards to my job rarely have I ever had problems with transport. There is the 539-Copacabana, 538-Botafogo. Service could be better especially during rush hour but its not terrible. The vans run circular route through Rocinha, to Gavea, Leblon then coming back to Rocinha passing by Vidigal. The motos run 24 hours and are fast and efficient transport within the favela, but if you want to go outside Rocinha, they can also take you wherever you want to go for a set price.

Mototaxis run 24hrs and can take you anywhere inside or outside the favela.

The very reasonable rent and utilities- I pay 500 reais a month for a large one bedroom apartment. I like my place as it has good ventilation and my neighbors are great. I have two large windows facing the main street and one smaller window in the bathroom. My electricity is 50-80 reais a month. Internet costs 50 reais a month. The building is quiet and people respect each other. Where I live is close to everything. I also rented my apartment on a handshake and no contract, no background or credit check and no deposit. Try doing that in the US or any other western country, impossible. There is a sense of trust here. If you don't pay your rent here, word will get out and you will not be able to find a place here.

Finding a place to stay or rent- There are a few real estate type places that offer listings of places to rent or buy. I used a service like this to rent the apartment that I live in now. One place that is well known is called Passagarda and they are on the main street in Rocinha.

So many choices for restaurants- My favorite places are the "Por Kilo" places which is like buffet style in choice but you pay by weight. Trapia is my favorite of all of them. Theres a place near my house called "Bom Apetite" where I get all the veggies and pasta I can eat with a good size portion of fish all for 11 reais which is also good food for a great price. And Sushi Roma is the best place for Sushi. There are many other great places too but these are my 3 favorites.

"Por kilo" at Trapia starts at 11:30am until about 6:00pm.

This is one of the many Sushi plates offered by Sushi Roma.

The street parties in the Via Apia- Every weekend theres always something going on. Brazilians love social events and parties and they spread out through the community. Anyone is welcome. Private parties are not held on the streets. If people want a private party they can rent a space to make their own event.

The street full of partiers. Street parties start around 12:00 midnight until 7am.

The love of FLAMENGO!!- What more needs to be said about Rocinha's love for the Flamengo Football team? Rocinha has its own fan club called
Raça Rubro Negra - 17ª Região Rocinha . They have weekly events where people in the community gather at several different bars or restaurants to watch the game on big screen televisions with family and friends. Lots of eating and drinking goes on but in a festive mood as people support Flamengo.

Living with my 3 cats that I found as kittens on the streets here-
I love my 3 furballs that I found as kittens in different parts of Rocinha. Many people here have cats, dogs or birds. I prefer cats! My cats are now indoor cats because I live on the main street. I don't want them to get hit by a car.

My family...  :)

A 24 hours bar/restaurant across the street from my house- If I get late night hungry, theres always rotisirie chicken that is awesome. On the weekends, there is a live band always playing. There is also a market open until 2:00am.

Being a 15 minutes walk to the beach- The beach is a peaceful escape for many who live in this packed in urban jungle. It's the one place where nobody can judge you based on your social class.

Street fairs on the Weekends- I enjoy walking through the community and talking with just about anyone being able to work here, not having to leave the community for my job there are always place to go where you can hang out with friends.

5 gyms where you can work out- Lets see there's Rocinha Fitness at 199, Shape in Fundacao, Best Gym in Boiadeiro, X-Sport in the Via Apia and R1 Fitness in Trampolim. People enjoy working out and the prices are very reasonable. I just wish they had a 24 hours fitness like they had in the US when I lived there. The gyms here also are not open on Sundays and close at 2pm on Saturdays. All the gyms are clean, equipment is good and have personal trainers available.

Best Gym located in Caminho do Boiadeiro at the bottom of Rocinha.

XSport was opened about 3 years ago and has top of the line equipment.

XSports Jiu Jitsu with some new members.

R1 Fitness at the bottom of Rocinha, just off the main street in Trampolim

Any kind of Sports- Here in Rocinha the most popular of course is football. But there are other sports too. The most common seen here are Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Muay Thai, Surfing, Swimming, Rollerblading, BMX and Skateboarding.

Community Mail System- Grupo Cartao Amigo or Zig Zag that can deliver mail directly to your door or act like a mail box etc.

Music- You can hear all styles of music throughout the favela. American music is just as popular as the local choices of funk, brazilian hip hop, forro, Pagode and even house music.

Creative Lives- People living creatively with little or nothing but being very resourceful. Many people recycle here. Many kids make their own toys and playing street games.

Children and Youth- Most children play outside playing hide and seek, riding bikes or playing football. Older kids like to go to the beach, skateboard, surf, play sports, play music or do some kind of art.

Attitudes- People not judging you for the clothes you wear or how you look
You don't have to pretend to be someone your not. Everybody seems to get along and show mutual respect to each other.

Schools & Creches- We have 4 public schools that are in Rocinha. There are also 4 municipal daycares and many private ones for parents who work and have young children. There are a few after school programs for kids that need help with their homework. Tatiana Henrique runs a program near my house.

Health Care- We have a UPA 24 hours clinic. The service is good. I have been to the health clinic two times and been happy with the treatment.

Our 24 hours clinic called UPA. For all Brazilians, basic health care is free.

Things I dont like:

The poor sanitation- The city needs to help people here to operate a better system. People here also need to participate in recycling and putting garbage in its proper place. There are designated areas and some places have containers to put trash. Everyone needs to contribute in helping to make the community cleaner. Parents need to educate their children too.

Some areas have open sewers- Again this is an infrastructure problem. The city needs to somehow help the favela create a better way or offer to help cover the open sewers. This like sanitation is not healthy for the locals. Breathing the air continuously from the open sewers cannot be good for ones health. These areas also attract rats.

This area is called the "Valao" (big ditch) which has sewage flowing through it.

That the government does little to help the favela- The government helps only in the way it wants. Or when there is an election year they offer to create or fix something here but usually its not of great importance. Building a "pasarella" or footbridge that cost 16 million reais is a waste, especially considering that it should have cost more like 2-3 million. Recently they just shut down the C4 library for lack of funds. Yet the politicians always seem to be getting raises in their salaries. Why build something if its not going to be put to use?
What good is it to have a nice library thats not open for the community?

Lack of quality education available for our youth-
The public school system here is awful. How can kids get a good education here with 4 hours of school a day? Or days where teachers don't show up? Our public school system in Rio (not just Rocinha) does not prepare our youth for university. And for older youth and adults, we need more job training programs. Brazil does not invest in its people. Very few in favela go to university. Most here are preoccupied with getting a job and earning money to help their families.
We need courses that can provide every student with the opportunity to prepare to take the exams to get into university.

Traffic Jams- Rocinha's streets are very narrow and between the buses, moto taxi's, pedestrians and commercial delivery trucks, this place can be chaotic. This foto is rush hour in Rocinha.

Drug dealers- Like any community, it's unfortunate that this exists but its a reality that when you have people who buy drugs you have people who sell them. This is common in most big cities around the world. Within the favelas there will always be this conflict between police and the dealers. This causes tension and abuses by police against residents, many who are not involved in drugs. The problem is when the police and dealers have shootout and stray bullets find innocent victims. Youth who get involved in these activities need alternatives like job training programs.

A scene all too common: Police carrying out a young man caught in the crossfire.

Pregnant young girls- This is a serious problem in many poor communities where young girls don't have access to activities to fill up their time. Images of sex and relationships are all over television and especially in "novellas" or soap operas. Young girls see these images and imitate adult behaviour without understanding the consequences. Macho society in Brazil promotes male dominance and women are seen to be "conquered" by young men. Lack of education and responsibility prevails and there are many young girls as young as 12-13 are giving birth to children. Lack of parenting or absent mothers and fathers don't help this situation. Birth control and condoms are available but many don't use it. Like most youth they think, it won't happen to them.

A 15 year old girl with her one year old son. It would be better to see girls focus on education than boys.

Homeless cats and dogs- Although most are taken care of, still sad to see this, people not castrating their pets. Many people will give food to the street animals. My friend has started an organization to build a shelter for these animals. Ruth Silva is trying to change this with her project Flor e Xavier.  She is trying to set up a formal registered NGO where she can solicit donations to help her with her animals. She currently has 54 cats and 7 dogs.

People and Jealousy- I see here that if you are successful, people can get jealous of you and gossip. I know, I have been the victim of gossip. Friends have told me so. I look at gossip this way, if people are talking about me, I must be important.

Sometimes I will test the trust of somebody by telling them something about me that is not true. If the information comes back to me, then I know I can't trust this person. Many people also assume that if you make some comment in general (especially on facebook), they will take it personally then comment back to you in a wrong way. I have had this happen several times. People will think I am talking about them (even though I don't mention names or specifics), when what I am saying has nothing to do with them. I question people who react this way because this reaction is of a guilty person. Many adults here are immature and act like high schoolers. I think it has to do with everybody living so close together or people who have nothing better to do than gossip.

I think this is about all I can think of now. If I think of other things positive or negative, I will update this post.

Friday, October 13, 2017

A teacher has some questions from her students

I often receive messages from people who have questions about life here in Rocinha or questions about favelas. I like to write my responses in my blog because this way others who may have the same questions can read my answers
  • Even though there are issues of gangs or poverty within some favelas, is there still a big sense of community with positive role-models? -- Yes, there are many role models here to look up to. And I like living here because people are friendly. Everyday I walk the streets here, I meet my friends and also people who I may not know very well, but they want to give a big hello. People also help each other here. A friend of mine who from another favela to Rocinha moved here 5 years ago, told me about arriving here. When he moved into his apartment his new neighbors greeting him, introduced themselves to him and asked if he needed any help. He arrive in Rocinha with a few suitcases and no furniture. One of the neighbors gave him a mattress to sleep on and another gave him a shelf unit for him to put his clothes. There is a big sense of community here. It's one of the best things about living here.
Caio, Rocinha resident (lime shirt) meeting guests from China. 

A daycare in Rocinha that received donations from visitors.
  • Do you like living in a favela? -- I do like living here because I know so many people and they know me. When I leave my apartment each morning and walk down the hill, everyone says good morning. I also greet people too. There are challenges to living here. Sometimes water runs out or the electricity doesn't work, but you get used to things not always working. But what makes Rocinha special. it's not the poorly built houses, it's the people that make Rocinha a good place to live. 
I have a lot of friends in Rocinha including my furry ones with 4 paws. 
  • How does leadership work in a favela? Do people in favelas nominate and vote on their own leaders? -- We do have a community government that is elected every 4 years. I don't really like politics because most politicians make promises they cannot keep. I think this is common thing throughout the world. The government here acts as a liason between the favela and the city government in Rio. I don't pay too much attention to what goes on here politically unless it puts us in danger. 
  • What is the government involvement in favelas like? Would you say most people in favelas don't want the government to interfere in favelas, or that they want the government to help them but the government abandons them? -- The city government only cares about favelas when elections time gets close. They only help favela if it benefits them. Most here do not like or trust the city government. Same as I mentioned before, they make promises they can't keep. We who live here are not stupid. Actions speak louder than words. We still have problems with water distribution and electricity, yet the city government doesn't do anything to help improve these conditions. 
  • How does race or ethnicity impact life in favelas? Are minority groups accepted? -- The favela accepts everyone. Favelas are for marginalized people of all races, colors etc. The government and system of classes in Brazil creates this marginalization of people who live in favelas. We think of ourselves like anyone else, but the system doesn't treat us this way. It's classist prejudice. In Rocinha we all get along for the most part and you see very little racism. You would not survive here long if you have racist attitudes. The origins of the favelas started as senzalas or places where ex slaves lived but things have changed a lot as now favelas have many mixed and white people living in them. Rocinha is very diverse community. 
There is a lot of diversity in Rocinha as seen in this photo of Berit with her "children". Berit visits Rocinha often and brings donations of clothes, toys and school supplies to distribute to several daycares. 
  • We even have a small gay community here. I enjoy the diversity as it gives a interesting humanity to our favela. 
A banner at the entrance of Rocinha advertising the gay pride parade October 24.
Rocinha had it's first Gay Pride Parade in 2010 without any problems. Over 30,000 people showed up to this event. Many came from other communities to show solidarity. Even though many people in favelas are religious, the feeling is of mutual respect for each person regardless of their differences. This is what I like about Rocinha.
  • Do you think police pacification is really helping with gangs? -- There are mixed feelings about the pacification. The problem is lack of training by the police in how to deal with people in favelas. People here are tired of being abused by police. The majority that live here are not involved in any kind of crimes. They are just honest hard working people who earn little money. When you have a minimum salary of 900 reais a month, where else can one afford to live? Every community needs policing, but it needs to be done in a way where respect is shown to the residents. 
  • Have you ever been threatened by police? -- I have never been threatened by police but they have stopped searched me for drugs. But I just talk to them without getting angry. If I show emotion then it only gives them reason to possibly abuse me. So, as much as I don't like it, I know I am innocent person. I just calmly show them my ID, explain, I don't use drugs and I think they can tell, and then they tell me I can go. 
Police searching a resident of Rocinha. Unfortunately, this happens when there is lack of trust between resident and the system. A father carrying his child has his backpack searched for drugs or guns. 
  • How frequently are innocent people killed or arrested by police? -- There are over 1020 favelas in the state of Rio. The police arrest those who they target or who are known who sell drugs. The majority of people killed in favelas by police are the drug dealers. Innocents do get killed but not as often as you would think. It's mostly stray bullet that would injure or kill and innocent person. This is the sad thing about living here is when innocent people are injured or killed, especially children. 
  • How do adults or kids react when police come by- do they hide? -- Most people don't hide anymore if police come by. If you are innocent, no need to hide. The only time people hide is if they hear gunfire. Then people stay away from windows and get on the ground and stay there until it's over. Now many in Rocinha have cel phones that have internet and people have access to communications as to where in the favela the shootings are happening. Apps like "whatsapp" have groups where people post in live time whats going on in the community. 
  • Do children in favelas feel safe? -- I think most of the time yes. Right now we have been going through a difficult time. Since September 17th, there has been a turf war between 2 gangs who want to control my favela. At least 3 times a week there have been shootings. Schools have been closed for a few weeks, Buses in the favela have stopped operating, businesses have shut down and twice the military has had to come inside here to support the many police operations going on to find the two gangs responsible for the violence. In the last 3 weeks, 16 people (drug dealers) have been killed. Right now, the favela is still unstable as these two gangs are still fighting it out. I have no idea when the "war" will end. Some photos below from some of the days during these conflicts in Rocinha.
 A motor taxi drives by garbage that was lit on fire by dealers to distract police.
 A house on Second street covered with bullet holes from machine gun fire.
 A tank, soldiers and police stand at the entrance of Second Street in Rocinha.
 The military was called in to support police forces to prevent more violence.
 This was close to my house. The military presence has enabled peace somewhat.
 The elite forces known as BOPE are highly trained like the SWAT in the US.
A man being rolled out after being shot and taken to an ambulance. 
*For those who are killed, the police always cover the face of the person. 
  • Do people in favelas get scared when there's a shooting, or are they used to it?  -- I am used to it. I don't like it but after a while, you do get used to it. I am an adult so my mindset is that it will eventually end. Each person reacts differently and has their own experience to gunfire. I guess I rationalize it as, I know they are not directly shooting at me, so I don't have as much fear. But it's not like I want to go outside and see it either. I am not stupid or reckless. I think it's bad for children as it can leave emotional scars on them. For those kids who see shootings or bodies, it affects them even more. Children should not have to live through this type of violence. I don't think ANYBODY should, but I think adults in the favela understand why these things go on. I would prefer total peace and no violence, but that's not the reality of the word we live in. As long as you have people buying drugs, you will have people selling drugs. This is not just in favelas, but everywhere. I just try to continue on my life path of being a good person. 
  • How is health care in favelas? --This is kind of a general question. In favelas, the quality of health care varies according to location and population. Rocinha has an estimated population between 250,000-300,000 people. We have three health clinics that serve our community. I had to go to a clinic once and I thought the treatment was good. Basic health care is free. There is insurance plans available for those who can pay, but few in favelas have this.
Our 24 hours health clinic located in the area called "S Curve" in Rocinha.

Since the shootings one of our magazines did an article about children in Rocinha and their reactions to the current violence. They also asked the children about their hopes and dreams and to draw a picture of their life. Here are two stories and these are words of the children. To read the rest of the article here is the link: 

Asheley Rodrigues Almeida, 10 years old. Resident of favela da Rocinha.

“Quando crescer, quero ser bem famosa. Penso em ser cantora, mas minha avó diz que tenho mais jeito para apresentadora. Sou boa aluna e tiro notas altas. Minha matéria preferida é ciências. Adoro conhecer lugares novos. Queria ir ao AquaRio, mas a escola não tem ônibus para levar a gente. Eu até passeio bastante, mas tenho amigos que nunca foram ao cinema. Acho isso triste. No dia do tiroteio eu estava em casa e tive muito medo. Ninguém me falou nada, mas vi tudo na TV. Fiquei tão assustada que até chorei. Tinha certeza de que muita gente ia morrer. No Dia das Crianças eu queria ganhar de presente a paz na Rocinha, ser feliz e uma casa dos sonhos da Barbie. Acho que o mundo seria legal se não tivesse tiroteio nem drogas. Meu pai conversa muito comigo sobre drogas. Ele diz que tem de ter muito cuidado porque elas não fazem bem para a saúde. Nunca vi arma nem gente morta, mas sei que acontece aqui porque vejo na TV. Morar aqui tem isso, a gente nunca sabe o que vai acontecer."

"When I grow up, I want to be very famous. I think of being a singer, but my grandmother says I have a way for a presenter. I'm a good student and I make high grades. My favorite subject is science. I love learning about new places. I wanted to go to AquaRio, but the school doesn't have a bus to take people. I have gone a lot, but I have friends who have never been to the movies. I think that's sad. On the day of the shooting I was at home and I was very scared. Nobody told me anything, but I saw everything on TV. I was so scared I even cried. I was sure a lot of people were going to die. On Children's Day, I want to see Rocinha have peace, to be happy and my dream is to have a Barbie doll house. I think the world would be cool if there were no shootings or drugs. My dad talks a lot to me about drugs. He says you have to be very careful because they are not good for your health. I've never seen a gun or dead people, but I know it happens here because I see it on TV. Living here has it, we never know what's going to happen."

Brendo Lima de Freitas, 10 years old resident of favela da Rocinha

“Estou muito assustado com o que está acontecendo perto da minha casa. Pedi até para dormir na cama dos meus pais. Lá o medo passa. Sempre brinquei na rua, mas agora eles dizem que está muito perigoso. Vi na televisão os repórteres falando da Rocinha, e meus pais me explicaram que existe uma briga política, mas não consigo entender por que tem de ter esse monte de tiro. Em muitos lugares as pessoas vivem tranquilas. Queria que aqui também fosse assim. Teve dois dias que eu, a minha mãe, que está sem emprego, e meu pai, que trabalha numa loja de embalagens na Via Ápia, ficamos em casa no escuro. Acho que as balas acertaram um poste. Mesmo assim, sou feliz. Eu estudo, tenho amigos e faço aulas de natação, skate e futebol no complexo perto da passarela lá embaixo. O meu maior sonho é ser jogador de futebol como o Neymar para ajudar a minha família e morar num lugar melhor. Mas não vou gastar o meu dinheiro com bebidas ou drogas.”

"I'm really scared of what's happening near my house. I even asked to sleep in my parents' bed. There the fear passes. I've always joked on the street, but now they say it's too dangerous. I saw the reporters on the television talking about Rocinha, and my parents explained to me that there is a political fight, but I can not understand why you have to have this much shooting. In many places people live quietly. I wanted it to be this way, too. Two days ago I, my mother, who is out of work, and my father, who works in a packaging shop in Via Ápia, stayed at home in the dark. I think the bullets hit an electricity pole. Even so, I am happy. I study, I have friends and I do swimming, skateboarding and soccer classes in the complex near the footbridge below. My biggest dream is to be a soccer player like Neymar to help my family and live in a better place. But I will not spend my money on drinks or drugs."