Sian called at 8 am so I could sing Happy Birthday to Harriet. She is 8 today and I feel bad for not being there. Off down to the University to sound check for the gig tomorrow and end up having a jam with a young viola player who cant speak a word of English, cool.
The main part of the day is taken up with a visit to the ‘Favela’, which means shantytown. It is not a place you could normally walk into, not without a great risk to oneself anyway. The drug dealers control these areas, and MST have to negotiate with them to get us in. MST have organised a cultural visit to the Favela so that their people from the country can meet the poor from the City, amazing when you think about it. A bit like the folk from the Penrhys estate in the Rhondda coming down to Cardiff and getting together for a sing song with people in the Principality..hmm. We have to be careful and handguns are spotted as we arrive and move into a building where a concert is taking place. The atmosphere is great; young people are singing and doing traditional dances and there are a few speeches of solidarity and friendship. Martin gets up and again talks of Christian Aids support for the work here and sings a song. Then it’s my turn and U2 rescue me as I sing ‘Stuck In A Moment’. I can describe the feeling as you sing to these people, never have lyrics been so tangible and worthwhile. Earlier Marcus guides us into the Favela talks of the need for education for the young people. He shocks me by telling us that there is now a private school in the Shantytown as the Government wont fund the school there and now to survive they have to charge. Within a drug culture this is a viscous circle and of course plays into the hands of the drug dealers. I’m further shocked when Marcus tell us his brother was murdered by drug dealers. These are no ordinary conversations. More info on Brazil; She has paid her debt back to the West five times over but is still paying off interest. The government is rich but corrupt and uses the debt as an excuse for not helping the poor. 40,000 people a year are murdered in Brazil; the United Nations states that 15,000 deaths constitutes a war. So we stay for around two hours and then are ushered quickly back to the van and out. I have to say I don’t like this and wanted to walk a few streets but am gently told no! Livre Do Acoite Das Senzalas. Presco A Miserin Das Favelas. Free from the whip of slavers. Shackled by the misery of the Favelas. Art graffiti in the hall where I sang. Tonight I’m trying to finish a song for the concert tomorrow which I know will be emotional for me. I can sing three songs and am looking forward to telling the gathered MST members how much it has meant to be with them and to stand with them in their work. We walk along Copacabana beach after dinner, eyes everywhere for trouble, kids sleep on the streets, and millionaires dine in restaurants. In my hotel room I find BBC world on the TV and as the horror of another heavy defeat for Wales by England slips by I am warmed by a report on the MST!! They are protesting on the Presidents Farm near the Capital Brasilia, a bit cheeky but good on them, changes are coming.