Published: 24th of June, 2022 by Patrick Carpen.Last updated: June 25, 2022 at 2:55 am
Favelas, also called slums, are a common characteristic of Brazil. Millions of people across Brazil live in small, rundown shacks for houses in neighborhoods referred to as favelas or what the English would call slums. Favelas in Brazil can be compared to what some English countries refer to as “the ghetto.” However, there are profound, unique characteristics to the Brazilian favelas which distinguish them from poor communities in other parts of the world.
Favelas in Brazil are usually crime ridden and drug infested. Criminal gangs, often referred to as “factions” are rampant within favelas. However, not all favelas are equally dangerous. The favelas of Rio de Janeiro, for example, are known to be particularly dangerous, and tourists are advised to steer clear of those favelas at all cost. On at least one occasion, a tourist was killed while passing through a favela in Rio de Janeiro.
With that being said, favelas also have decent, poor, and kind people living there. In 2011, while I was traveling to Sao Paulo, I spent three days in a favela in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. How did that happen? Well, I was taking the bus from Boa Vista, Roraima, to Manaus, Amazonas, after which I was supposed to board a plane to Sao Paulo. A young woman on the bus started a conversation with me and, learning that my flight was 3 days later, quickly invited me to stay at her home.
I didn’t know that she lived in the favelas of Manaus. But I was nevertheless thankful for the experience I gained there, and I’ll detail more of it in an upcoming article. For now, I’ll just say that from staying three days in a favela, I gained some firsthand experiences on favelas in Brazil. There are happy people living there. These people are poor, but not starving. However, the houses are very very rundown. The people in the favelas are healthy and strong. They carry on normal lives…go to school, go to work, have birthday parties, etc. The environment, especially the homes, however, practice very low standards of hygiene, and the place is somewhat dirty.
The people in the favelas of Brazil have access to running water and electricity, and many of them improve their living conditions gradually. Nevertheless, favelas continue to exist and continue to expand across Brazil despite rapid infrastructural development drives.
In summary, I’d say that aside from the parts of the favelas infested with criminal gangs, life in the favelas is not that bad, and there has been a lot of progress from the Brazilian government in improving the lives of people in the favelas.