René Silva, the wunderkind of Rio's Complexo do Alemão favela, has another accomplishment to add to his list. He has co-authored a new book, called A Voz do Alemão. The book tells the story of René's community, the newspaper Voz da Comunidade which he started at age 11, and his rise to fame as a young journalist. Published last month, the book is now available throughout Brazil.
René is quite busy these days, traveling to book launches and continuing his work at Voz da Comunidade, as well as being very active on social media. He's also working on rebuilding Voz da Comunidade's offices, which were destroyed in a fire in July. I spoke briefly to René about the book and his views on the project.
What is the book about?
The book tells the story of residents of Complexo do Alemão that helped give a voice to the community. These are the people who helped change the image of the community through social projects.
Journalist Sabrina Abreu co-authored the book. How did you two divide the work?
Sabrina Abreu and I divided the work here in Alemão like this: I recommended everyone who made up the story of the newspaper and who developed social projects [in the community], and she began interviewing them. I went with her to a few places. She based a lot of the story on the Voz da Comunidade newspaper to write the book.
What do you hope to accomplish with the book? What's the most important message in the book?
I hope that the authorities focus more on communities, and that big businesses develop more educational projects in favelas so we can have a better future, without poverty. The message is that it's not enough to just put police in communities and think that all's well; you also need to bring more government investment.
What's your favorite part of the book?
Every part of the book is really neat. But I really liked the chapter that explains how I became famous overnight...it was really fast. I've never heard another story like it.
The book came out after Brazil's protests in June, with ongoing demonstrations in Rio. Do you think these protest could benefit communities like Alemão?
Yes, I believe the protests could benefit communities, because government agencies are going to look at favelas differently.