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“Let’s keep distance from that favelado, that drug trafficker and thief, the kind of guy who assaults buses at night while we come back home from work. How beautiful this city would be without all those shacks on the hill! I have the right to look outside the window without seeing that disgusting view. The favela is dangerous, I’ve never set foot there and I never will: they speak an annoying language, they are dirty, they are society’s scavengers. They are not respectable human beings, we should throw them out, or at least we should erect a wall all around them: they would finally stop to invade our space and our civil lives.”
“Stars are so beautiful tonight. I like to sit here on this chair till late, stargazing, while my dad, my mum and my brother prepare French fries for those passengers at the bus stop. I love my place, Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, where I have many tios protecting me. I can spend my evenings here with my parents and my older brother, counting the stars, observing whether they move. I imagine to fly close to the most brilliant ones in complete awe, and close to the smallest and shyest ones. And all these stars form amazing shapes of evil dragons, horses, smooth hills like those of my city, like the hill where my house is located. Who knows what the inhabitants of the other hills think when they look over here… And who knows what the inhabitants of the other stars think when they look over here! My mum always says that one day I will be able to go away from here, that I will be able to live anywhere, even on a star. This is why during the day I go to the little school, and during the nights I wait for my mum, my dad and my older brother to finish their work. But I don’t want to stay anywhere else: this is my home, on this star, on this chair under all these other stars.”
“Let’s keep distance from that African. Why don’t they stay in their countries rather than coming here carrying Ebola? They come with those boats to destroy our cities and steal from our houses. I have the right to look outside the window in the morning, before going to work, and find a different view instead of this stretch of filth, human waste, tinplate roofs, rats, open-air sewers. My neighbourhood was was so beautiful, but it was ruined by this group of jailbirds, these Ebola carriers.”
“The thing I missed the most when I was in the tent, and I was double up with pain, and my belly was exploding in spurts of sludge and blood, was that raising my eyes I could not see the stars in the sky. Now I miss even more my mum, my wife and my daughter. I am 25 years old and I saw all of them dying. Ebola decided to spare me: I don’t know why. Ebola left me alive and alone. I came back to my house, near by a river of garbage in which hordes of rats swim and eat lizards that eat cockroaches. And the stars are once again above my head and the tinplate roof. I have my Community. I showed them the certificate saying that I’m not dangerous because I’m cured and not anymore contagious, but people don’t get close and don’t want to touch me. Finding a job is not easy, because they all know where I’ve been. They gave me the certificate and they told me that I would face “stigma”. I don’t know what that means, but it can’t be worse than Ebola. What I realised is that I found myself living a different life compared to the one I had before. And I know that I want to write my application to work at the Ebola hospital: I want to fight for those who are suffering like me, because I don’t want them to die like my mum, my wife and my daughter. But one day Ebola will be stopped, and schools will open again. I would like to go back to school: maybe one day I could become a doctor and go to Italy, where those who cured me come from. They are special persons, and if all Italians are like those who cured me I’m sure that I will be happy there. And if I will be a doctor, I will cure them like they cured me. But right now I put myself in the hands of God, and I keep stargazing. Who knows how the stars of the Italian sky look like, whether they are like these one, or more brilliant.”
[Photos © Marco Loiodice]
[Translation by Andrea Pregel]
[Articolo in italiano su Finestra sulla favela]
Marco has worked for more than ten years in Italy as a consultant and project manager in the IT sector. In 2012 he left his job and moved to Brazil, where he worked with Il Sorriso dei miei Bimbi in Rocinha, the largest favela in the country. In November 2014 he moved from Brazil to Sierra Leone, and started working with Emergency to fight Ebola. He narrates his experiences on finestrasullafavela.wordpress.com.