“Bota mais água no feijão”
This common Brazilian phrase is one that truly encompasses the community-driven values of the favela. Favelas are low-income communities, but that does not define them. They are vibrant, full of love, positive energy, and residents that are eager to help one another. The above phrase translating into, “put more water in the beans,” encapsulates the culture of favelas because it means that there is always food for another person, for a neighbor who may be hungry, or someone in need, because you can always put more water in the beans.
As most favelas, Rocinha is full of untapped potential, a community that has over 250,000 residents but is ignored by the local government. This is reflected in a lack of access to quality education and health care. With demand high and funding low, a child is offered (if accepted) just four hours of education per day often from underpaid and unmotivated staff. This leaves extended periods of time where children are at home without supervision, leading to involvement in negative activities, principally stemming from the pressure to join the local drug gangs who control the favelas. In many cases favela children must grow up by themselves, denied backing and resources, they are forced to decide from a young age who they want to be without a support system to guide them.