The Future of Favela

I decided to stay help Fabian at the house for another week, we assemble the roof yesterday and today the local contractor making the floor of the second floor. We are on the way to the disposal centre, throwing up useless woods, debris and other stuff that are not going to be used anymore when i ask him about how does the house get their water. I already see how they get the electricity from their artwork at the utility pole, it looks like a giant noodle on a giant fork. In fact, the first time I arrived at the house I can see the live wire channel in to the house where Fabian put his music on. The water pump has been installed at the house but I’m curious to know where does it come from. Apparently it was coming from the main water pipeline and channel out to the favela, that’s why I can see a white PVC pipe half buried running along the pathway. Each house installed a water pump to pump in the water to their house, during summer time when the weather is hot, the pressure is low due to high water consumption, sometimes they ran out of water for few days. Fabian said this land used to be landfill, the gangs came divided it into small lot and sell. From that piece of land, the people started build their own house according to their own style, you can build how many floor you like, you can build a nice beautiful cozy being inside the house but from the outside, it look shitty, you can put as many air conditioning unit you like, you don’t have to worry about the bill.

“What do you think about the future of favela? Is’t going to change or stay like this forever?” I ask his view.

“It’s going to be like this forever,” says Fabian without no pause.

I ask why he think like that.

“I used to work be part of the project by the government to upgrade this place, new roads, wider roads, new sewer systems, safe electricity and water, but few houses need to be taken down. The government compensate them with a house but they didn’t want it, they still want to stay here in this shitty place, they didn’t think about their future. The government can’t force them to agreed, I gave up,” Fabian say.

“I guess it’s hard to change people’s mindset, how long they have been here? Two generations? Three generations? The way I see it either a revolution or a big catastrophe to reset,” I say.

It was around 2002 when my friend brought City of God at our campus apartment, I only catch a glimpse of it when my friend put its on., the foreign language, the low quality copy, it’s just not my thing. American Pie was my thing at that time, how I wish our study years would be as fun as it. The only memory that I can recall coming from City of God is my friend started giving us the character’s name from the film to us. I watch City of God again before I resuming my second trip and I was totally deadpan, I want more of it, so I watched City of Men, Elite Squad and the sequel. I saw life in the favela through the images of a knife being sharpened, a chicken being slaughtered, and carrots being chopped. Ariel footage that gives a fair idea of the immensity of the favela and its complex assortment of seemingly endless chaotic constructions, as well as the sheer number of intermodal containers repurposed as housing. Rows of symmetrical houses, the hard flat white light on the street and the flickering strobe lights of a dance party following a murder, from that moment I knew it, I want to go to Rio de Janeiro.

One of the past day Fabian asked if Malaysia has a favela like in Rio, reminds me during my kid’s day playing in one of the squatters area nearby my aunt’s house. “Any gangs?” he asked. “I’m not sure, I’m too young at that time, now everything is gone, the Government provides them a house,” I said. Zach asked me on the first day what brings me to Rio, my answer is the city itself, the upcoming World Cup event, the beach, but I kept the real reason to myself, the chance to be in one of the six hundred favela in Rio, a chance for me to travel as low as locals level.

Max had to changed his project to another favela as the favela that he’s working on is considered as a hot zone, he encountered a civilian carrying gun around the favela. But the most close to action I encountered while I’m with my favela is the significant amount of police in the favela in the past few days. Fabian said there were a threat coming from the Red Command and as a matter of precaution the amount of police patrolling in the favela increased. I got a chance for closer look at them when they had lunch in the same restaurant with us, the uniform, Glock pistol, metal handcuff, bullet proof vest, some of the police women looking way too hot dress up in the police uniform. I assume it’s still under control because the BOPE has not been around yet, if I see them around I knew that there is something colossal threat than that.

Fabian - Barreira do Vasco

Fabian – Barreira do Vasco