J.Allan Longshadow, Editor of Motiv8.me Magazine and a Presenter on Wrexham’s Calon FM talks to Madalina Tanase and Lena Shaqareq about an incredible project they are about to embark on to explore the authentic life of the slums and favelas of the world, reveal the positives that are happening in those communities and crush the stereotypes of those “forgotten cities”.
“Our mission with creating this documentary series is to show the world what hope in the midst of unjust conditions looks like and what it is capable of. In a world full of negatives, hurt, heartbreaking stories, and a pandemic that spurred more of that, we want to highlight the GOOD and the POSITIVE,” said co-host and co-producer Lena Shaqareq, an educator who mainly works with students of English as a second language and professionals in that field.
“I have been in education for over 15 years and a lifelong learner myself. My passion for people, travel, and learning about cultures has also led me to work with immigrants and refugees….. and my passion for teaching is now leading me to want to teach to a bigger audience about the world around us. I’ve shared my knowledge through different venues. I’ve written books, presented at conferences, and now I want to take on a bigger stage – TV!”
Watch the interview
The first episode is a stop in the world’s 6th largest slum- The Rocinha Favela in Brazil. With around 100,000 people living in Rocinha, it is the most populous favela in Brazil. The picture people have of slums and favelas having decrepit housing, deteriorated conditions, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, and lacking many of the basic human rights is not entirely accurate in Rocinha – a city within a city. Marked with brick buildings, all hand-built by the residents, some 3 stories high or more, Rocinha’s economy is almost independently supported by hundreds of local businesses such as banks, car shops, hair salons, Airbnb’s, restaurants, medicine stores, etc. The locally-based channel TV ROC (TV Rocinha) and the local newspaper (Fala Rosa) report on the daily events in the favela. But Rocinha Favela is more than meets the eye: many neighborhood organizations, and non-profit educational and cultural projects of social rehabilitation have a powerful positive impact on the community, and its youth. We are there to shine light on the good that comes out of having hope for a better future, a better life. Join us and support the people of the Rocinha Favela.
“Your donations will help us tell their stories and give back to the community. Join us on this journey as we highlight and share stories of hope in the form of art institutes, women centers, children’s projects, capoeira and soccer projects, reformed drug dealers running charity work, and more.” Adds Madalina Tanase, Lena’s co-host and co-producer.
“I have been an educator for the past 24 years, teaching at elementary, middle school and college level. Eternally passionate about traveling the world and experiencing different cultures, I love to learn about different ways of living, participate in customs, and sample the tastes of the world. With every experience I’ve had, my perspective on the world has become richer and I’ve become more culturally aware and in awe of people’s grit. There is nothing that inspires me more than the fact that in spite of some dire circumstances, people make the best they can to improve their condition.”
Madalina and Lena are joined in the project by Matt Yancey (below left), owner and producer at Second Star Solutions.
“I have been traveling the world producing and editing video programs for over 20 years. Recently, I have traveled to Peru, Egypt, and Israel for a documentary titled “Angels and Giants, The Watchers and the Nephilim”. I also frequently produce videos in many African countries for various live events and short-form projects. In addition to documentary work, I also serve as a director for multiple well-known music artists like Billie Eilish, Cardi B, Nikki Minaj, Jimmy Eat World and many more music festivals all over the US.
Another key member of the team is Dirk Bose (above right).
“I was born and raised in Germany. In my early 20s, I moved to Sao Paolo in Brazil, then 5 years later, to Rio De Janeiro. Since 2015, I have been a tour guide in the most beautiful city in the world. It brings me pleasure to show the tourists Rio behind the curtains – Rocinha. Rocinha is a city within a city, and in my opinion, the real Rio. With my tours, I give people another view of Brazil. The tourists are impressed and delighted to see the people of Rocinha, sometimes with very little and sometimes with nothing, but always with a smile. I also help my friend, Wark, who is an artist in Rocinha whose project is to build an art school there. This is my invitation. Come over and find out!”