Free software favors the favela

Free Favela

Article from Issue 145/2012

With Free Software, some ingenuity, and a lot of drive, a friend brings knowledge, technology, and hope to a “disadvantaged” corner of his world.

I do not remember the conference where I met Marcelo Balisteri, but it was about five years ago when he was 26 years old. He had invited me to visit his home sometime when I was in Rio de Janeiro, and that did not happen for 2 years.

Marcelo lives in a favela – which most people call a slum – named Favela Vila Parque da Cidade. His favela is not the largest in Rio, nor the most famous, is not part of the famous “favela tours,” and doesn’t have a lot of the crime that people associate with some favelas. At night, people sit at small restaurants eating simple meals and drinking a few beers. Teenagers go to the park across the street to play “futbol,” and many people walk up the main street from the public transportation that takes them to and from the main part of the city. Once you get to the edge of the favela you climb steep paths, which are too small for cars, to the various apartments, including Marcelo’s apartment.

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