Last week we were fortunate enough to be invited to tour the palefitas in Salvador. Palefitas are similar to favelas in the sense that they are quickly constucted slums, but palefitas are built on wooden stilts over water. Needless to say, these are not sturdy homes. Walking over the planks residents have placed between homes was a nervewracking experience, for the planks creaked and wobbled with every step. Homes collapse when it rains. Trash and raw sewage is dumped in the water directly below the houses, resulting in widespread disease.
The government received enough pressure to start the process of slowly removing the palefitas and relocating residents to sturdy homes on land. Fifteen years later, the last remaining palefitas are on schedule to be demolished within the next few months. We were led by a community leader who acts as a liaison between the Brazilian government and the community. He explained the history of this community, the challenges it has and continues to face during this process, and what our role is as global citizens.
Here’s the video: