By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This Tuesday, March 19th, the American Society of Rio de Janeiro will be hosting a talk by Barbara Olivi, entitled ‘Fellinian Tales of Life in Rocinha as told by one of its Italian Residents.’ Olivi is the founder of two NGOs: ‘Il Sorriso dei miei bimbi’ (the Smile of my Children) in Italy, and ‘Amigos da Vida’ (Friends of Life) in Brazil. She has been living in Rocinha since 2001, where she runs her Brazilian NGO.
“Living in Rocinha is the antithesis of monotony.” Olivi comments, “Every single day is unique and totally different from the following one. There is an energy in the air, a will to live, and the people’s characters are pure, not hidden behind the falsehood of social classes, appearance or formalities.”
Olivi is going to be presenting her talk in the style of beloved Italian film director Federico Fellini, with tales from the daily lives of Rocinha’s residents. She is keen to talk about the dignity, resilience and spirit of this community, instead of just focusing on the negative aspects that the media so commonly portrays, such as the crime, drug gangs and precarious nature of life there.
“It it true that there is a lot of uncertainty and precariousness,” Olivi continues, “when your daily life is confronted by sewage, rubbish and dirt.”
“There is also the incalculable loss and grief that many families and individuals experience there, either due to violence or poverty.” She adds. “If you’re not careful, in the long term, it can consume you.”
Arriving in Rio de Janeiro over twenty years ago, Olivi fell in love with the street children of Rocinha, and in 2001, she put together a non-profit organization in the favela community, Amigos da Vida, which continues to help members of the community through educational projects.
“In 2019 we are continuing on with determination, leading our educational projects in Rocinha.” Olivi adds. “I want to keep raising expectations and then making them a successful reality. But it is also important that we continue to build on our happy relationship with the young people and kids in Rocinha. We’re always looking to do more, to give the most educational and professional assistance we can.”
For anyone interested in donating or volunteering, the charity’s website can be found here.
What: ‘Fellinian Tales of Life in Rocinha as told by one of its Italian Residents.’
When: Tuesday, March 19th, 7PM.
Where: IBEU, Rua Barão da Torre, 662 – Ipanema
Entrance: R$10 for AmSoc members, R$20 for non-members.
Correction: This article has been updated on March 19th to display a last-minute change of address.