Poverty and violence are a daily fact in Mangueira. The favela is dominated by a powerful drug gang, that's fighting a constant war with the police and other gangs. Practically, it means that at times shootouts in Mangueira take place almost daily. Sometimes, the situation escalates badly and children can’t leave their homes to come to Estrela da Favela.
Moreover the violence has traumatized many children. A vast number lost family members, has parents who are related to the drug gang, are in prison or entered prostitution.
Some children get little or no food at home, others live in drug shelters or have to share a small house with many people. Generally, the biological father is not present and mothers have to make long working days away from home. As a result they hardly have time to take care of their children, who spend a lot of time on the streets where education isn’t valued at all. On top of that, parents, who are mostly uneducated, generally don’t stimulate education. To earn 'easy' money, many boys join the drug gangs. Some girls enter prostitution at a young age.
Most of our students go to public schools, but receive dramatically poor quality of education. Unlike expensive private schools in well-to-do neighborhoods, the free public schools in the favelas are extremely bad. For example, 27% of teachers are structurally absent. Also, valuation figures for the schools in Rio de Janeiro are significant: 3.4 on a scale of 10. As a result, students are far from achieving the required level to enter the formal labor market.