October 23, 2013

Rocinha - The Largest Favela in Brazil

I was thinking about favelas as places where only extremely poor people are living; high unemployment rate; no service, no decent educational system. I learnt things are quite different. First, in Rocihna there's everything yo need: shops, public transportation, banks, school (from kindergardens to high school), samba school (that is a primary need in Brazil). Second, everything is much cheaper: the rent for a two bedroom is 50% cheaper than in the rest of the city, so many common people are living here in order to save on renting house. Third, the unemployment rate is precisely the same as in the rest of the country (around 5%): residents either work in the favela or in other neighborhoods (of course most of them are not highly educated, but still they get a job and they work... for example the guide who took me there, Luisa, is a certified touristic guide, and she was born in Rocinha and still living there). There are at least three different social classes within the favela: if you walk along the main "avenida" you can see wealthy houses (there' a picture of a yellow beautiful one); going down one or two street-levels houses are -lets' say medium-; then right on the mountain there is the lower class part.The State here has no room, except for some special police sent to "pacificate" local crimes. But this seems not to work properly. Open-air sewer are the main problem, as you can imagine, but, as Luisa told me, goverment prefers to cover 30% of the budget for the next Olympics than to fix this problem. I spent there just a few hours, but I was impressed by the humanity of the people I met....

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