Sao Paulo City's expensive businesses and apartments: "The City seems to go on forever."
with street children of Brazil
Yesterday, Orly, Renee, and I had lunch at a local restaurant, with six street children, who sold candy along the same street where our school is located. This is an experience that I will remember for eternity because I felt good helping someone that is less fortunate than me. The idea to have lunch with these kids was Orly’s since she is doing her research on the street kids of Brazil. It was a great idea and I am positively sure that a middle to upper-class Brazilian would not dare to do the same. The reason is that while we were eating a couple of pedestrians were either staring at us or giving us dirty looks. All that I can wonder is who is a better person, the one that gives or the one that continues to take.
Favelas: Impressions noted by students on a Study Term Abroad in Brazil.
Hillside, poverty, marginalized, periphery. Having lived in Dominican Republic and the slums of New York, I thought I was desensitized to poverty and suffering. I walked towards this site as someone that could not possibly be shocked. And I wasn’t at the time. It didn’t really hit me until the next day when I traveled to a village of condominiums outside of the city where I saw where the really rich lived. What a contrast. How shocking. On the way to this complex of million dollar homes, I saw so many favelas outside of the city of Sao Paulo. On their way to work, the wealthy people of Aldeia de Serra pass through these sites of poverty and turn their heads. When we mentioned to the family that we had been to the favelas, they all looked shocked or laughed, implying that only American students would waste their time going to a slum. I thought that Maria Lucia’s lecture about favelas really brought it home. She gave us a historical background about where and how favelas emerged. It was good to have done the reading about such things like center-periphery, marginality and neighborhood associations because it made our readings real. The reading was the background we needed for the visit. It made me feel competent. Visiting Real Park made me feel like I wasn’t doing my part. Walking through the stocks made of a combination of wood, carton, and rocks made me feel very privileged. It was a sad realization. I am glad that we got to see it. I think a lot of us needed to see it to wake up to sore truths.
we are told to open our eyes and take a good look at what is around us.
Some of us do it every day. Some
are fortunate to do it once . . .Either way it is not often we notice that
others have much less that we do. Side
by side stood the favela in the heart of capitalist consumption.
Capitalism, not just in the name brands we ignored as we got dressed, but
the highway it overlooked, the billboard ads . . . .The ideals of
“development” that have resulted in the reality of Morumbi, a rich
neighborhood of gated condos that contains one of the city’s largest slums.
walked over sewage and excrement into a world so few Americans can fathom. We wonder how the globalization of capitalistic consumption
could do this without realizing out part, our country, our penetration.
of us do not realize the clothes wear came to us at the expense of human lives.
But these people are survivors – smiling at us despite our foreign
tongues. They’ve made a house
with their own hands and a community center with their own hearts.
They have organized daycare and often stolen electricity.
one bothered us. Most welcomed us
with smiles. Favelas are not the heart of violence and evil manifestations. I saw churches, a community center and children holding
hands. I do not suggest a utopian
world where there is no crime or violence but I do know I walked through their
space unharmed – but not untouched.
could see a hundred favelas in one hundred different countries and still feel
sorrow and empathy. We walk by the
homeless and look the other way. We
ignore children selling candy. As
Americans if it is not our life, we do not want a part in it.
But I . . . buy candy from the kid on the corner and give my left over
change because I think all of us, even if in some small way, can do something,
for someone, that makes a difference.
My experience so far in Brazil has been great. On a daily basis, people confuse me with being a Brazilian. This country is a melting pot of different nations, and sometimes I feel like I am in New York City. The people here are so warm and caring, except in riding the Metro which could get quite aggressive during rush hour. The Metro itself, in comparison to New York City is clean and the Metro station overall is very clean. The Metro is also much wider, and spacious, and it comes about every five to eight minutes.
I have seen many different things but what really caught my attention is seeing little kids selling candy out in the streets instead of attending school. I am used to seeing this in Honduras (my parent's birthplace), but it is a shame how they have to struggle to earn some money and be at risk of being run over by cars and/or motorcycles. Although we are at risk of being run over while crossing the street, they run a higher risk by standing in the street and selling their goods.
Visit to “Real Parque” favela in
One of the most intriguing aspects of the favelas was the upper middle
class area that surrounded it within a very close proximity.
I have read in our readings that this is the case, and how this is true,
but it is still amazing upon arriving in this location.
I wonder how it is that the poverty and destitution do not seep into the
rich homes, or how the rich conditions do not improve the well-being of many of
the people in the favela. Another
distorbing sight were the cingapuras* which
brought to the reality how the country deals with the poor.
The buildings were directly across from a major highway where I´m sure
tourists, students such as myself, as well as all Brazilians travel.
They were built in order to cover and hide the favela.
This leaves the outside world ignorant and blind to the inequities that
the favela communities suffer from. The
buildings are made bright, beautiful and huge; just large enough to cover the
favelas and a small proximity from these cingapuras was the destitution of a
favela. Instead of solving the real
problem, the Sao Paulo state government wants to hide it.
The interior of these cingapuras did not appear to be any better that the
insides of favela homes, but from the outside it looks very comfortable and
nothing like what they really are.
* Cingapuras are state government urban renewal, slum improvement projects based on a model developed in Singapore. See picture. These are built to repalce slum shacks. It´s privately estimated in Sao Paulo that it will take 50-100 years to replace just the shacks in Real Parque favela with cingapuras.
Every morning and afternoon I take the bus to school. The stop is close to my house and I can take three different buses to get to school. There are many more that stop at the bus stop though. Some mornings my bus comes very quickly, other mornings I have to wait longer, but not more than 10 minutes depending on the traffic. When you get on the bus, there is someone, almost always male, sitting in a high chair, who collects money and tickets. It costs 1.40 reals to ride the bus. You must walk through a turnstile in order to get to the seating area of the bus. There are a few seats in the front for the people over age 65 that do not have to pay for the bus. The person who collects the tickets is often surrounded on the back side by a curtain so that people sitting in the back can not see him. To get off the bus, you must pull a cord signaling the driver and you must exit from the back doors. This makes the system of getting on an off very efficient.
Something special that sticks out in my mind about the bus is that if you are standing and have a bag or something in your hand, a person sitting will ask if you want them to hold it. This does not happen all the time, but most rides I see it. People of all ages, genders, and races offer to hold bags and let their bags be held. One time, an older women was sitting down and a younger man came on with a folder in his hand. She didn’t even say anything to him, but just extended her hand and he gave her the folder. I think that this is an interesting custom in this city because of the amount of unsafety and fear people have. In so many areas of the city we are advised not to take bags or people might try to steal the, but the case on the buses is a simple, friendly act that goes almost unnoticed.
Perpetually poor, perpetuating our hunger
Our minds asunder, sometimes I wonder
Could it be that it was all so simple then?
Nastradamus said: “If I ruled the world?”
I know we wonder, is it our world?
Subculture, they call us,
They can’t fault us when bullets start
Flying past their heads.
Is it one yet?
No, mad bloodshed, for our voices to be heard?
Subculture, culture of valley girls,
Abercrombie and Fitch hats. Pig pens, sick hens,
Skin heads, heads full of blond hair.
I don’t care to be addressed as the heir
I am not confused but continuously used,
Abused, and not understood.
Brother, are you amused?
I am not done.........
Favela Real Parque on the hill, Cingapura at the bottom and wealthy businesses across the river
#3 Morumbi Favela
Visiting the favela confirmed many of the idea that I have learned as well as enlightened me to many more things. I was shocked at the actual proximity of large corporations and buildings to the favela. I had read about Morumbi being an area of rich apartment houses, but I was really shocked to see the huge COMPAQ, CityBank and Nestle buildings looking right into the favela from across the river.
Another part that took me by surprise was the sophistication of the favela. The priest told us that many people illegally tapped into the electricity. (only 20% of the homes have it legally in Real Parque favela.) This seems pretty difficult and must take some sort of education or trial/error to figure out how to tap into an electrical wire. I also was unaware of the number of shops within a favela. There were many small ones selling drinks and food along the main street near the “cingapuras.” Also, the billiard parlor and arcades shocked me. The reason I was shocked was because it seemed like two seperate worlds. Some of the houses had TV´s in them or stereos with music blasting and yet there was a man selling actual chickens.
I also thought the auto-construction of the housing was very sophisticated. The skill to set up houses with plain cardboard and to secure them into the ground on the hill. The simple technology involved is amazing and something I expected to see but not to the extent that it was.
Some of the things I expected to see where small houses, water that wasn´t clean, clothes lines, lack of privacy and these were all very obvious when we walked through the favela.
The visit to the favela on Friday was interesting. I believe I have seen worse conditions in Senegal, however, this was more disturbing because of the sharp contrast of conditions. The beautiful, industrialized Săo Paulo composed of apartment high rises and technologically advanced buildings that sat directly across from the Morumbi favela. The favela was constructed on top of raw sewage and full of makeshift houses, and the urban renewal cingapuras. The houses, constructed of cardboard and some of brick, were hardly habitable for one person, let alone an entire family. There were sick dogs all throughout the favela. I could not believe that a rather expensive apartment building existed no more than a block away from the favela. I had the opportunity to see the inside of one of the favela shacks, and certainly I can say it was inexplicable. I do not understand why some sort of subsidized public housing does not exist for these people. It does in the form of “cingapuras,” but this renewal is insufficient. It is mostly window dressing for the city. Also, for the rest of the population, if some sort of disease or illness was to affect these people, it undoubtedly would catch on to the rest of the population. Certainly the situation says something about our desensitization to things which we regularly confront.
I thought that visiting the favela in Morumbi was a very real and eye opening experience. It has a very different effect to see something with your own eyes, rather than just reading and talking about it. I had learned that a favela was a slum, and many of the reasons why favelas existed, for example, due to economic capitalistic development in Brazil and the high rates of unemployment, and why these favelas are on the periphery-----due to the poor being pushed out of centers where there are more job opportunities and industrialization. I had read about a lot of these things before going there, and I do not think I could grasp anything close to what I saw without going there. I can not believe that in this day and age, there are so many people living in such a way. I have never seen anything like it. It almost feels like it is a dream, because it feels so far away from my life. The “favelados” live in a subculture with an extreme amount of poverty. They seem to be trying to work, and stay happy-with the opportunity and resources they have. These people seem somewhat happy---maybe it was the smiling at them. I was also impressed with the amount of craft knowledge and the clever ways of making their life better. For example, tapping into the electrical circuits to get electricity for their houses, and making their own houses out of scraps; building their own sewage systems, and creating walkways.
Our trip to the Favela has been the best experience since we arrived in Brazil three weeks ago. I had never been to a “slum neighborhood” and it was definitely an eye opening, shocking experience. We traveled into what I saw to be the most luxurious part of Săo Paulo. There were mansions lining the streets and luxury cars driving around. All of a sudden with on turn of the wheel, we entered into favela territory. Going into the favela made me nervous at first. Our prior readings set a picture in my mind of a drug and violence infected area. I was shocked to see the conditions these favela dwellers lived in. There were houses made of cardboard while raw sewage ran visibly through some streets. People were walking around with bare feet and looked as dirty as they smelled. I knew this experience would be shocking, but I never though it would have made such a great impact on me. All I could think of as I walked though this neighborhood was, “How do these people live like this?” and also, how much Americans really take for granted the basic amenities we have such as a roof over our head, hot meals, showers, and clothing. These people had nothing, and it made me sad. It also sickened me. I, as an American, used to be naive to the fact that people actually lived like this. Now, I realize that these people are not less than me, because they have nothing. They are very resourceful, they build their own homes, as basic as they may be, they survive on the little they can find or scavenge, and that is impressive.