Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are continuously given a hard time in the media. If we play a game of word association, for many the word ‘favela’ is synonymous with ‘violence’, ‘gangs’, and the most prevalent – ‘slum’.
As a twenty-something, female traveller I was somewhat shocked by the reactions of others when I told them of my plans to stay in a favela. It made me realise that even within the open-minded, liberal-leaning backpacking community, Rio’s favelas still have a notorious reputation to live down.
What’s more, to the cariocas who live in Rio, this negative word association is not only offensive but also damaging to favela communities. Theresa Williamson, Executive Director of Catalytic Communities summed this up beautifully when she said, “don’t call them ‘slums’. That’s a lazy translation and it’s unfair to the people who live here. The word ‘slum’ implies that all favelas are the same… and…
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