Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crack and The Favelas

A recent conversation has thrown some light on why we have had so much unwanted attention at the rescue house these past few weeks. Each person you speak to tends to have their own pet theory about the origin of the threats and (even more entertainingly) their suggested method of dealing with the problem. Recent suspects have ranged from mischievous kids (ladrinhos - "little thieves") to frustrated pimps (your average homeless prostitute wandering the marshlands behind the house is no Julia Roberts), depending on the level of paranoia of the person asked.

The rescue house has the appearance of a large family residence. It has a wide frontage and large automated gate - to the average thief (or humble, if nosy, neighbour) - an understandably attractive proposition. If only they knew the chaos behind those walls!

I have suggested "Kids Beware"-style signage. It would make a refreshing change to the "Beware of the Dog" posters which scream (bark?) from every frontage in the 'hood. Others have suggested a plaque proclaiming that we are an Association which helped children, but this has been poo-poo'd (IMHO, rightly so) since the concept of the rescue house is modelled on the family home - not some sort of society or orphanage (we do not want the children to believe that they have "special needs" or, contrarily, are in some sort of temporary utopia).

Recently, I have suspected (probably prejudicially) folk from the little favela (favelinha) which appears to have sprung-up at the bottom of the road. There's one man (a photo of which I will post at some later point) who is terribly nice, but there are others there who are not so friendly.

Yes, the postman does deliver if you paint a number on some wood

Although it's more of an illegal settlement than a full-blown favela, the dangers remain. It is widely known that living inside a favela is the safest place to be. The drug dealers control all aspects of habitation: everything from granting permission to live (rent or buy) to whether it is OK to start a Sunday school for the local children. They also decide which crimes can be committed and where. It is those that live just outside the favelas who face the greater risk of crime, since it is the police who control such areas (and around these parts at least, the police don't count for much).

In any event, the recent discussion that took place centred on the marshlands backing on to the vegetable patch. The supply of crack has recently dried-up in the neighbouring favela, so the junkies have been visiting the local dealers who have set up camp (together with the aforementioned prostitutes) in the largely uninhabitable area out back. This explains the recent spate of murders, armed robberies, burglaries and sundry assaults in the locale. Addicts needing to finance their fix - at any cost.

they are out there...somewhere

That is why I am concerned - but not unduly alarmed - by the 'banging at the door'. A serious intruder would not be announcing his arrival. We've strengthened the lock on the back gate and added some barbed wire and a security light for now. Finances don't stretch so far as an electric fence (and my view is that this would attract even more unwelcome attention).

Bolts, locks or bright lights -- ultimately, we can trust in only one impenetrable refuge.

He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26


ulices said...

Sonya is being bossy, she wants me to read the blog everyday... And she says I should say something...
I hope you are well!
Now she said, "good job"!

Luke said...

Excellent! I say "well done!"

Anonymous said...

I am from Sao Paulo and currently live in NYC. I have been checking your blog frequently, and really enjoy reading these short stories about a city that I know so well, yet a world I know nothing about (I grew up in Vila Mariana/Moema).

I skim the big media in Brazil on a daily basis - it is interesting how there is so much optimism with the economy and so on - but we just seem to not care about these serious issues of child neglect, lack of basic security and so on that you often bring up. So, thanks for reminding me of them and for being there doing this job.

Luke said...

Hello Gianpaulo

Thank you for your kind words about the blog. If there's a place where varied worlds collide then it's surely this sprawling and wonderful city.

Let's see how far Lula's petrodollars go in alleviating Brazil's social ills...


Fat Cat said...

Sounds uncomfortable. I wonder why the bad guys have moved in to your locale? Better trust in your Locks first and your Lord later.


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