Why did you decide to come to Rio and volunteer with Project Favela? Taking a break from work? Gap year?
In several experiences abroad, I had met many Brazilians. Thanks to those people I came in contact with a culture that I didn’t know before and that fascinated me.
I chose this experience and in particular Project Favela because of a great desire to understand what a “favela” means. Especially the lives of people who have to face a difficult daily life permeated by violence and poverty but at the same time looking closely at the luxuries of the elite Brazilians who live a few meters from them.
This is the reason that led me to choose to spend my holidays helping the children of the favela. Through this project, I spent a summer of significant personal growth, enjoying one of the best places in the world.
You took this picture while volunteering in Rio. You came to Project Favela with your passion for photography. How did your skills as a photographer help you “see” the favela in unique ways?
In the weeks that I was in Rocinha, I was looking for different places to take photos that could show how impressive and fascinating it is. In that way it lets me try to see Rocinha from a different perspective. I loved finding shots of the favela that will be in my mind forever and because it is an impressive place. With these photos, I hope people lose the filter that we have when we think about a favela.
Many volunteers leave a quote behind on the wall of the apartment above the school.
The “wisdom wall” is one of the most inspiring things that I ever seen. Everyone can leave a piece of him to the Project Favela family. There is a kind of presence of every old volunteer in the apartment. Personally I have been inspired many times from my predecessors.
Of course I left my quote! You are not a Drop in the ocean. You are THE ENTIRE OCEAN in a drop – Rumi
What do you miss the most?
What I miss most is how I always felt at home even in such a “difficult” and different environment.
The favela is a complex world. There are contradictions at every turn. What perplexed you the most? Besides the never-ending festas, what, if anything, kept you up at night?
Honestly Rocinha is richer that I expected. I haven’t ever seen extreme poverty but at the same time I found many people that are resigned to live their entire life in the favela. Many times parents are forced to think of many other things rather than the education of their children. Even though people of Rocinha live with extremely dignity, they face an extremely difficult life.
Now that you are home, what is your biggest regret?
That I had not applied sooner!