What is a favela?
A favela is a slum in Brazil, most often within urban areas. The first favelas appeared in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Some of the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighborhoods). They were the places where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many former black slaves moved in. Even before the first favela came into being, poor citizens were pushed away from the city and forced to live in the far suburbs. However, most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Unable to find places to live in town, many people ended up in favelas.
Census data released in December 2011 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) showed that in 2010, about 6 % of the Brazilian population lived in slums. This means that 11.4 million of the 190 million people that lived in the country resided in favelas.
The name of the favela chosen by In Cultural Veritas to carry out its humanitarian and educational missions is Rocinha. Located in Rio de Janeiro, Rocinha, widely considered as the largest favela in South America, is the most densely populated and urbanized slums in Rio de Janeiro. There are roughly 21 neighborhoods within Rocinha representing a population estimated at anywhere between 100 and 200.000 inhabitants, who live crammed into a steep and rugged landscape of only 0,332 square miles. Within this highly dense community the majority of residents subsist in conditions of abject or near abject poverty, residing in small shanties stacked one on top of another, sometimes as many as tall as even 11 stories tall. Most houses in Rocinha have basic sanitation, plumbing, and electricity.
Located between two of Brazil’s wealthiest neighborhoods, São Conrado and Gávea, the educational status of Rocinha’s residents is very low. Residents have an average of only 4 years of formal education, with less than 1% of Rocinha’s adult population having earned a degree above a high school diploma.
Facing this huge shortage of education, In Cultura Veritas decided to invest itself in this favela with the partnership and support of on-site local NGOs.