Rocinha, Rain and Removals

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The rains that fell upon Rio de Janeiro demonstrated a reality brought to the surface by a storm. Thousands of people had their homes buried, lost their relatives, and because of negligent authorities, remained without a place to go. In Rocinha, it was no different.

In a location known as Laboriaux where approximately 4,000 people live at the top of Rocinha, a large landslide occurred. Unfortunately, it buried several houses and killed a mother and daughter. City Hall decided to seal off the area and relocate all that live there. Families that were accustomed to living in a decent house now have to go live on a miserly R$250 in social rent (Aluguel Social, a government programme) that is barely enough for a small kitchenette.

The history goes back to well before the floods. The favelas growing without planning has brought about a structural deficit. It lacks all the basics of infrastructure such as sanitation, schools, and hospitals. With this, the well-meaning residents of the communities find themselves with no other choice but to live in these places. Some residents lack awareness of safety. Locations near hillsides where it’s easy to have landslides are not adequate locations for construction.

We don’t have our hands tied. Now, with new media, it’s easier to blow the whistle. Twitter, blogs, Orkut and everything can be used to help, even if just a bit, to transform a community into a place which is better for all.