The first favela, or hillside shantytown, appeared on the outskirts of Rio De Janeiro over 100 years ago.
In the late 18th century, the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighborhoods), and they were the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived.
Over the years, many freed black slaves moved in. However, before the first settlement called "favela" came into being, poor blacks were pushed away from downtown into the far suburbs.
Most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s, due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Without finding a place to live, many people ended up in a favela. Despite numerous official attempts to eradicate these hand built renegade suburbs, housing the poorest of the poor, they have multiplied over the past century.
Today there are more than 600 favelas, where one in five Rio residents lives. São Paulo also has a large number of favelas.
The favelas are units of irregular self-constructed housing that are occupied illegally. They are usually on lands belonging to third parties, and most often located around the edge of the cities, often crowded onto hillsides. Residences are built without permission or a license and are often disorganised, without numbered streets, sanitation networks, electricity, a telephone service or plumbing. In recent years favelas have been troubled by drug-related crime and gang warfare. In the past the authorities have taken a number of steps to reduce problems in favelas. They have set up self-help schemes, with the local authority providing local residents with the materials, such as breeze blocks and cement, needed to construct permanent accommodation.
The local residents provide the labor, the money saved can be spent on providing basic amenities such as electricity and water. However a recent campaign is threatening the existence of the favelas, which are home to 1.1 million of Brazils poor. The favelas are close to some wealthy areas of cities and these residents are keen to evict the poor from their homes. Officials are citing a variety of reasons including environmental protection, land ownership disputes and concerns over the safety of those living in the hilltop favelas. However Jose Nerson de Oliveira vice president of the favelas in Rio de janeiro has said, 'It isn't about land or trees or anything like that. The simple fact is they don't want the poor close to them'.
Despite the negativity and history of the Favela's there are kids there full of life that has something to offer our world. We want to focus on them. To encourage them and help them to reach their dreams.
Our program in Borel and Gramacho is ran by Pedro and Nadia Barbazza, who have over 20 years experience working with development.
Our program demonstrates love through supporting the transformation of society in education, healthare, government, economics, art, and other aspects. Understanding the need for structural changes in society as a whole, our program redirects focus on human quality. Unfortunately, the majority of the Brazilian population lives in unjust social and economic structures.
Our organization is not tied to any political group, but we recognize the political importance in creating changes for the better.
In each of our projects we desire to help build a type of justice where a child living in the favela would not be able to study and have access to music education is afforded this opportunity through our project.
One of our main goals is to prepare youth for the labor market, thereby generating self-sustaining income earning within the community. We desire to meet people’s physical, mental, social and spiritual needs. Although Gramacho is known for violence and drug trafficking, we believe in spreading peace and hope and bringing life to this community.