Trip Start Jun 02, 2011
5Trip End Aug 10, 2011
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We met up with Paulo and his son Daniel on our second day, where we had an extensive tour of the city. Taking us to a local market where we were able to sample all sorts of exotic fruits, meats, cheeses and wine. Having grown up and worked in Sau Paulo for most of his life, Paulo is well aquainted with the persistant problems affecting the city. Drugs, prostitution and crime are commonplace, and one of the chief reasons for Paulos work in the favelas. Tom and I were able to go and volunteer in the favelas on a couple of occasions and take part in the acitivies the ministry provide for the children. While the children appear as normal kids, playing football in the streets, youll easily witness a major drug deal happening just feet away. It was insane! Paulo's aim is to put an end to the visious and inevitable cycle occuring in the favelas, starting at the bottom of the chain with the children.
Paulo also described the problems he faces with the PCC, an organision fuelled by drug dealers and crime groups, who have taken control of all favelas in Sao Paulo's. Over time they have developed a precense in the favelas where they have more power than even the police. Just to be able to go into the favelas, Paulo must have a mutual respect from the PCC and have cleared all of the volunteers. Essentially, the group is extreamly corrupt, funded by drug money, however they are able to mask this by also doing alot of good in the favelas. Building playgrounds, improving irrigation, and enhacing the community are ways of building stronger relations with the people. Just driving in, we were checked by the guards at the entrace of the favela.
Similarly, on a drive around town, we experienced the remarkable disparity between rich and poor. After driving down a street lined with designer stores, luxurious resorts and outrageously priced restaurants, we drove not more than 1 mile to discover a street with roughly 300 people openingly taking crack on the street! Paulo said the street value of most class A drugs in Sau Paulo (crack, oxy, heroin) are only valued at under $5 and readily available. The reason for so many of the children being drawn into drugs is the livlihood that comes with it. The big time drug dealers in the favelas drive nice cars, have a good house and appear (to the children) to be making a good name for themselves. It is this disallusion Paulo and the volunteers are trying to break with the weekly 'agitas' and ministry in the favelas.
It was amazing to be able to have experience the work carried out by Paulo and World Venture in the favelas if Sao Paulo, and learning about the realities of the city and the reasoning behind their work. We would have loved to have longer to spend out there but had a flight to catch to La Paz. I'm sure it would not be the last we would see of San Paulo though.....