By Harold Emert

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Concerned about the decadence of one of Rio de Janeiro’s once lovely landmarks, residents of Leblon, Lagoa, and Ipanema have banded together to clean up and renovate Jardim de Alá (Garden of Allah).

Aerial view of Ipanema district (right) and Leblon. The canal is flanked by the Garden of Allah. (Photo Alamy)

Calling their association “Friends of Jardim de Alá,” they complain of beggars sleeping on the grounds, the smell of urine and trash, unbearable noise that upsets their daily lives, dangers of being mugged and the abandonment of the canal area near the famous beaches of Ipanema, Leblon, and Lagoon area.

Their complaints echo the same grievances of other residents of Marvelous City, which has numerous plazas, parks, and monuments in ruins and decay.

But unlike many complainers awaiting city, state or federal officials to resolve their problems, the” Friends of Allah” have begun plans to bring a renaissance to an area near their homes which means so much to them.

So, last Saturday, bringing along children to play with their toys, senior citizens to take walks, and various musical presentations from a Samba group of Comlurb (Rio’s Sanitation workers) to a flute and oboe duet and Ciranda circle dancing, the “Friends” held what they hope will be one of many events to restore the decaying but beloved area.

The canal running through Garden of Allah was built at the beginning of 1920 by then-Mayor Carlos Sampaio, with the idea of cleaning up the waters of the nearby Lagoon.
The “Garden” near the Canal built in 1938 was named Allah’s Garden in 1940, after a 1936 film with Marlene Dietrich and Charles Boyer.

Residents meet in Allah's Garden to celebrate a new chapter in the existence of this park. (Photo private collection)
Residents meet in Allah’s Garden to celebrate a new chapter in the existence of this park. (Photo private collection)

“This group was created by myself, together with the parents of four children who live near the Praça,” attorney Maristela Pinto told The Rio Times.

“We regularly go to the beach nearby, and the group’s idea was to occupy the Praça (Plaza) which has been abandoned. Before this group began, there was an inauguration of Praça Grecia near the canal by a group called “Rio I Love”. This group has increased due to our love for the city and the shared interest to see the Praça revitalized. My idea is to show our children that society can unite to achieve incredible things. We have held two events since the year began and we intend to revitalize other Praças around the city. The regional municipal superintendent, Marcelo Maywald, has always backed us and continues to do so.”

Instead of group meetings, the “Friends” have been using WhatsApp, resulting in suggestions of numerous and useful ideas, including cultural and culinary festivals, locking the gates of the Praça against invaders and prohibiting loudspeakers from religious groups and other entities, from spreading noise pollution.

Residents meet in Allah's Garden to celebrate a new chapter in the existence of this park. (Photo private collection)
Celebration of a new chapter in the existence of Allah’s Garden. (Photo private collection)

Faced with problems, which never seem to be resolved, one of the “Friends”, Luis Jereissati even offered to clean up the trash himself.

Luis told The Rio Times: “This morning I was in the Garden and chatted with the trash man, offering to clean up the mess left by street dwellers, who sleep over in the Canal. The trash worker from Rios Comlurb declined my offer and, before I knew it, the trash was cleaned up.”

An example for others passively complaining about decadence in Marvelous City!

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