Thursday, 28 March 2013

Favela Futuro Melhor

During my stay in Brazil I volunteered to help building makeshift houses in a favela (shanty town) near São Paulo. It was called Futuro Melhor, thats 'better future' in portuguese - all favelas have positive names like that. I spent 3 days there, working hard alongside other volunteers and locals - learning a lot about the favelas, its inhabitants and - surprisingly - about myself. 

I wasn't even planning on taking pictures (these ones are taken by a snappy-snap), and considering the amount of impulse I received, I've taken far less then I should have, however this way I could do what I went for - build. And building we did. Under the scorching Brazilian sun, sometimes interrupted by raging tropical storms, slowly we managed to pull up a number of simple wooden boxes with roofs, that were to serve as houses for the next 8 years. None of these houses were bigger then your bedroom, yet now families with up to eight kids call them home. These are among the best houses in Futuro Melhor, where paved roads and sanitation are non-existent, yet the sky-line of São Paulo, with its towering sky-scrapers, is always there to see near the horizon.

Millions live in favelas just like Futuro Melhor, and contrary to the general beliefs, they are not murdering beasts - well at least most of them aren't. They are not even lazy, nor stupid, hell, not even depressed! They are just like you and me, and despite the circumstances they are pretty up to date - god knows how, but they added me on Facebook and invited me for a grill! And most of all they feel abandoned. When we gave them their new home, fighting with tears the mother said to us: "Its not just a home you gave us, but rather the hope that once we can get out of here, and that now we know, not everyone has forgot about us!"

Now, you don't have to go to Brazil, to find a favela. There's people in need all around you. Sacrificing a weekend of yours could really make a difference for them, and who knows, you might learn a thing or two about yourself! I personally never thought that volunteering could be so rewarding, without doubt, that weekend is one of those that I treasure the most of my life...