Photography: Zack Warren
It is safe to say our team was not prepared for what was ahead entering the first favela on our trip, named Borel. We approached what seemed to be a ordinary side road, to then hike straight up a large hill and was suddenly in the favela. We walked into a different world, it looked different, it smelled different but the people were beautiful, filled with life and joy. They were like the other people we had met earlier in the rich areas of Rio such as Botafogo and Copacabana. The difference is that 20 years ago a lot of these people had no documentation such as birth certificates or other identification documents such as Passports or licenses. Today pretty much everyone in this specific favela has I.D’s much thanks to our leaders Pedro and Nadia. Pedro and Nadia have been working over 15 years in this specific favela, they have started many programs to help enrich, educate and keep safe the children of Borel. As Pedro was leading us around in the favela, people would run up to him, to give him a hug and talk with him. He was well-known and loved by everyone. The homes had improvised structures and it was obvious that they were self built. The houses were by no comparison to a lot of the nice neighborhoods in the nice part of Rio such as Barra, but yet we thought they were beautiful. Borel has come a long way and has some great programs in education, arts and music compared to a lot of other favelas.
Our visit to the favela – Gramacho known from the documentary “Waste land” was a whole different experience than Borel. This favela clearly was not as organized as Borel, and there is a huge need for programs. Pedro and Nadia started working in this favela about 3 years ago. They work in 2 different locations.
One of the locations has a building, but there is one area that does not offer any safe-houses, community centers or health clinics. This area is the one we as Passport 2 Freedom feels the strongest passion for to help build a safe-haven/community center/health clinic.
We visited 2 single moms in their self-built home for their babies 1 year old birthday. Nadia explained to us how the fathers of these babies were brutally murdered this past year assumedly from being involved in drug trafficking. The murder rates in this favela is really high. There hasn’t been real documentation or investigation to show the actual numbers of death here yet.
The programs here are focused on education. At the location in Gramacho where there is a building we did a project with the kids, where we found old wood, we spent a lot of time sanding to make the wood smooth and also painting it. Then Pedro taught about recycling. He explained to the kids how we can find things that seem to be garbage to most people, but how we can take it and turn it into something beautiful and useful.
We were also super excited to have well-known tattoo artist Jon Hall
with us. He painted several murals in the favela, and also helped paint
the outside protection wall for the center in Gramacho in collaboration
with a well knows local street artist, named Felipe Carvalho (see
We learned so much from this trip and we are so happy to see the programs running well, and also excited and proud to know Pedro and Nadia more. We believe that we can make a change here starting with helping one child at a time. The need is indeed great.
We’d like to take a minute to thank everyone who has donated towards our Cause. We were able to give out over 700 pieces of baby clothing. 30 Soccer balls and feed all the kids lunch thanks to all the kind donations given from Passport 2 Freedom supporters. We can’t do this without all of our supporters. Again, THANK-YOU!