More than a million people live in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Rocinha is an ever-increasing one and the largest favela in Brazil with an estimated population somewhere between 120-160,000 (officially 56,307, although many people consider that figure to be a serious underestimate) living predominantly in the self built housing that rises up the mountain backdrop to Rio’s wealthy beach front communities (home to around 15,000 people). Violence involving not only local drug traffickers but outsiders like arms smugglers and corrupt police has worsened living conditions, security and health for the poor living in the favelas, and heavy weapons and drugs are part of the visible backdrop to daily life for Rio’s urban poor.
In 2007 we undertook our first Visible Voice project in Brazil, working with Viramundo, a Brazilian, non-governmental, community health organisation. Viramundo is committed to work with the urban poor and migrant groups (internal and refugees) living in Rio de Janeiro where it provides health education services, cultural projects, along with basic health care training and community development support with the aim of improving the health and well being of disadvantaged groups in Brazil.
The first Brazilian Visible Voice project took place in June 2007 when we worked with people living in the Rocinha Favela to explore issues around migration, health, social change and everyday life in Rio de Janeiro.