A jamming visit to the favela of Rio

Last week, a group of MBA students went on an epic trip to Brazil, as part of our International Study Programme. It started in Sao Paulo with visits to Walmart and Natura, amongst others. Then we all headed to Rio de Janeiro, hoping to catch some sun and fun! The days passed so quickly; we had so much to see, so much to do! The one day, which really made the trip, was Friday, 18 March 2011. After a very impressive session with Deloitte, we all got on the bus to go to Vigário Geral favela (slum).

Eve, our guide for this part of the trip briefed us about the place we were going to visit. It was a slum area, known to be a very violent place and a hub for drug dealing. In the past, there have been horrifying instances of gang wars and young children becoming a part of the circuit. With all that at the back of our heads, (and instructions not to click pictures without permission!) we reached the favela.

There we were greeted by a hundred kisses from a woman, who owns a restaurant based in the middle of the favela, cooks all the food herself, is more than 50 year old and still has a dummy pacifier in her mouth, most of the times! The food was delicious! The variety was commendable.  Good food and warm hugs from the lady herself made us happy, but none of us knew what to expect ahead!

Smurfit MBAs and Afro Reggae dancers

As soon as we neared the cultural centre, set up by Afro Reggae to give the youth a platform to develop and polish their talents, we were welcomed by the sounds of drums! There were a bunch of boys, beating the drums! Their performance made our day! The MBAs had their share of percussion for the trip and how much we all enjoyed it! Next was a tour of the cultural centre. They had recording studios, dance studios, rehearsal halls, and computer labs. It was very impressive how they catered to the creative needs of the youth, all in one place. More impressive was the intention behind it. They aimed at getting the youth involved in all these activities, so that they stay away from the evils in the society. Going by the facts, they have been fairly successful at what they are doing!

We were audience to an impromptu performance from a band, who were in the middle of their jam session at the recording studio. We even had a chance to do a mini percussion drum workshop. We were a bunch of 40+ people, and I proudly say, we did manage to get a rhythm! A dance performance by the girls, symbolising the strength of women, was also arranged especially for us! The entire evening was so musical, that it brought the rhythm back to the lives of the MBAs. For people like me, who have a cultural background, it was an evening to reunite us with art, rehearsals, the feeling of “letting go” and enjoyment! Ah! Nostalgia!

Amneet drumming away
Amneet drumming away

– Amneet Kaur