As World Cup played, people in Brazilian slums live in poverty - Tucson News Now

As World Cup played, people in Brazilian slums live in grinding poverty

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The streets may be decorated in green and yellow, but the quality of life remains the same. (Source: CNN) The streets may be decorated in green and yellow, but the quality of life remains the same. (Source: CNN)
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RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (CNN) - More than 100,000 residents of one the poorest slums in Latin America face a harsh reality of poverty: poor sewage systems, poor schools and poor hospitals.

They are too destitute to even travel to protests, and they say they are not likely to see any of the money generated by the World Cup.

Life in Jacarezinho, a Rio de Janeiro slum, has changed little over the years.

Today, the streets may be decorated in green and yellow, but the routine, the boredom and the quality of life remains the same.

No one knows it better than Valeria, a mother of three who has lived here for more than 25 years. From her window, she has yet to witness real change.

When her family goes to a hospital, there is no service. She says she wakes up early to take the kids to school. They get there, and there are no classes. And to add to all of this, the waters by the river bank get inundated, and she says she has to change her furniture every year. That's a lot of money.

Despite the complaints reported, the more than 100,000 people here have settled into a harsher reality, becoming almost numb to their precarious conditions.

It's a reality that Pastor Antonio Costa finds difficult to accept. For years, he's been fighting for their cause.

Recently, his cries have grown louder as Brazil throws more money to hosting the World Cup.

Early this year, he traveled to Zurich to protest at the gates of FIFA's headquarters demanding better conditions for the people of Jacarezinho.

"Seeing my country from this place shocks me because we are the seventh economy in the world, but at the same time, we permit people to live in these conditions without switch systems, children without a good education, people dying in hospitals, a place where people are invisible," Costa said. "People don't have an identity. People cry and no one listens."

It's easy to understand why the people of Jacarezinho are so apprehensive about the World Cup. Many tell me that the money the government has contributed and the gains that may come from it won't go to the people who really need it.

The strain of poverty are hard to ignore here.

Children and adults alike cross a stretch of wasteland every day, fearing for their health and their safety as trains pass them at speed.

Costa said things have improved over five years, but there is still great need.

"There is a big difference," Costa said. "People are no longer dying of starvation, but people continue to live without dignity."

There may be victories to be won for Brazil in the football field this month, but for people of Jacarezinho, even these won't be the game changer they're seeking.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

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