Lockdown Stories

Grassroot Media Making in the favelas
of Rio de Janeiro

Cosme Felippsen

Cosme Felippsen – ‘Rolé dos Favelados’ Tours in Morro da Providência.

Hi! My name is Cosme and I was born in the first favela, the oldest favela in Brazil, the Morro da Providência. I’m 31 years old and I’m a guide tour. When I was 8 years old, I was in a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Providência, and a couple of people kept asking me ‘can you show me your favela, can you show me your becos?’ Becos are small streets. And I said: “yes”, and this was my first tour guide job. 

Cosme's Covid-19 Story

Our tourism sector was the first to stop. Not only here in Providência, but also in Santa Marta and Rocinha, based on what I heard from local friends. We stopped one day before the state governor declared lockdown and we have been in the same situation until now. I’m not working.

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Cosme Felippsen – ‘Rolé dos Favelados’ Tours in Morro da Providência Cont’d

My first payment was in ice-creams! When I was a teenager, I was part of a Methodist church in Gamboa. This church was visited by many people from other countries as it was also one of the oldest social institutes. I carried on showing my favela to visitors and, in exchange, I was taken to trips and restaurants. Now, I’m a professional tour guide, a journalist and a community broadcaster. I’m always reporting what is happening in the favela and during this pandemic. I made some reports to Intercept Brazil, NHK (Japanese TV Channel) and Globo Channel in Brazil.

The tour that I offer here is called ‘Rolé dos Favelados’. I have already guided 7,000 people here in Providência, and also in partnership with other tour guides from Santa Marta, Rocinha, Alemão, Bairro da Paz in Salvador, the seaport region in Rio and Maré. But, of course, my main attraction is the Morro da Providência.

After my tours, a lot of people are really surprised at how lively and how strong the communities are here. My ‘Rolé das Favelados’ tour is not only about introducing favelas to tourists, but also about presenting Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. We are sharing knowledge about our history, culture and reality because our rich history has emerged from our favelas.

Cosme‘s Covid -19 Story Cont’d 

We are tour guides, freelancers, so we don’t have any employment rights or social security and we are not entitled to any statutory sick pay. Therefore, we are facing a lot of difficulties. We are demonstrating our nonconformity and campaigning to be recognised as freelancers in order to get access to social benefits. We are not only professionals, but also activists, so we have been supporting the community since and even before the pandemic. We helped each other constructing and building our houses, we have created this whole supportive network to provide services and to provide help where the state has failed us.

Inside the favela, in my supportive network, I’ve been trying to find ways to get supplies for me and basic staples for all the people. I’m trying to make sure that everybody has food on their table. We have been struggling in the last six months and we have no idea how the future is going to be. We are sharing, supporting our networks so everybody can survive. We are looking after each other, we are trying to prevent the virus of spreading. However, we know that the vast majority of people will be contaminated. Still, we have been trying to flatten infection’s curve, so we do not overload our healthcare public system.

If you would like to get in touch or book a ‘Rolé dos Favelados’ tour, please contact me:

+55 21 98123-4167