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Photo by Diego Martins

Complexo da Maré is the largest group of favelas in Rio de Janeiro, made up of 16 communities. Located in the North Zone of Rio, since 1994 it has been recognized as a neighborhood and its geographic boundaries are defined by Guanabara Bay and three expressways: Linha Vermelha, Linha Amarela and Avenida Brasil.

Currently, around 140 thousand inhabitants live in Maré, distributed among around 47 thousand households. A diverse population, made up mostly of women (51%), black and brown people (62.1%) and young people under 30 years of age (51.9%) and 14% over 60 years of age. In addition, it has a strong northeastern presence, which represents 18.3% of residents.

In general, its residents have an average income of between one and two minimum wages; they studied for four years; work in the service sector, construction and/or in jobs that do not require specialized training. On average, families in Maré are made up of four members and almost 50% are supported by women's work, with many cases in which children help in some way to make up the family income.

Although it is characterized by a great diversity in the composition of the 16 communities that constitute it, there are social issues that are similar and imply a reduction in the quality of life of the local population, highlighting the lack of public health, cultural, leisure and educational facilities. . All of this has a strong impact on local dynamics and prevents access to full rights in every sense.

There is an absence of public policies that guarantee access to full citizenship rights, such as health, education, culture, sport, income generation, mobility, basic sanitation, among others.

Maré is also marked by spatial delimitations created by local violence, generating a series of symbolic and geographic borders between people and regions within the neighborhood itself. Violence resulting from clashes between armed civilian groups that dominate the illicit drug trade and from military and police interventions is one of the most serious problems experienced daily by the population of Maré, with risks to the population's physical and mental health.

According to the Security Observatory Network , there is a police operation every thirteen days in the region. Other research, such as the one carried out by the non-governmental organization Brazilian Public Security Forum, shows that the majority of victims of deaths resulting from police intervention in the country are male (99.2%), black (84.1%) and under 29 years old (74%).

As a result of these confrontations, violence generates a high degree of stress, suffering, anxiety and depression for residents of the complex. In this context, the physical and psychological limits of individuals are aggravated by restrictions on care, accessibility and specialized care in the health area.

Despite the challenges of fighting for rights, we seek to overturn the stereotypical/common sense thinking that the favela is a place of violence, lack and weakness. We believe that it is important to go further and denaturalize social inequalities, affirming popular power as a strategic element of social transformation. Maré is a territory of memory, belonging, social mobilization, knowledge construction, coexistence, solidarity and creation in every sense. In the alleys, alleys and rooftops, culture and creativity pulsate, people meet, celebrate and strengthen themselves by collectively finding ways to (re)exist.

And it is in this context, which has social demands, and also dreams, desires and opportunities that we operate, with Yoga and Ayurveda as our main transformation tool!

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