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Trailblazers: from the favelas of São Paulo to Aquabest and PSV

Written by Zoran Bogdanovic
Grensverlegger André da Silva ASML
Picture: Max Kneefel | André da Silva

Eindhoven is rapidly transitioning into a world city. As an indispensable party within tech, design and innovation, the city has become a popular place to study and work and now consists of numerous nationalities. A change that stimulates a vibrant and colourful city culture, yet also feels unsettling to some in certain areas. Effenaar views music as a way to connect the inhabitants of the city, because if there is one thing that transcends language and differences, it’s the universal love for music. With the article series ‘Trailblazers’ you meet various internationals from Eindhoven; get to know their story, passion for music and favourite spot in the city. Brazil’s André da Silva kicks things off with his tropical vibes.

André da Silva grew up in the favelas of São Paulo, where life on the streets can be dangerous. He is now team leader at ASML, regular DJ at PSV and likes to eat bitterballen. Sports and music were a lifeline to him. “My parents sacrificed a lot so I could be here. Some of the friends whom I grew up with, they are gone.”

A blue lake, a clear blue sky and a view of waterskiing visitors. We meet at Cablepark Aquabest, where there is a DJ booth on the water. House music is playing in the background; first a bit dreamy with vocals, then upbeat and then with a touch of Latin. The DJ is André da Silva (36), wearing a coloured blouse and sunglasses, when he takes the microphone:

Hi everybody, my name is André and this is my favourite place in Eindhoven! Today I have a visitor from Effenaar for an interview and after that I’ll play some more music for you!”

André climbs onto the terrace via the stairs, is greeted by regular visitors and plops down on a chair while keeping his warm smile. For convenience, we speak in English, but he can hold a conversation in Dutch. “Hee jongens, hoe gaat ‘ie?”, he says to a couple of young visitors who give him a fist pump. “This place reminds me of Brazil. It is lively here and there is a tropical atmosphere. Just like the most beautiful beach spots in my native country.”

Grensverlegger André da Silva ASML
Picture: Max Kneefel | André da Silva

André’s chapter in Eindhoven started a little over three years ago, when he received a call from a +316-number while at home in Brazil. “Before I picked up I thought: ‘From which country is this code?” It turned out to be a Dutch recruitment agency, which pitched him a vacancy at ASML. “I googled the company and thought: “Wow! This is the biggest chip manufacturer in the world!”

After three rounds of applications, André was hired as an integrator. As the word suggests, he integrated software modules into ASML software products. But soon he worked his way up to the position of product owner. Now, he leads a team that updates, releases, maintains and develops new features for ASML software.

While living in Brazil, he already had a good job at an Israeli company, for which he got to travel all over the world. Yet, he still chose to transfer to ASML. “Two things were decisive for me. Firstly, ASML is a company that works with the latest technology. I find innovation extremely interesting and I have a master degree in ‘Computer Science’, so this was a perfect fit. In addition, a safe work environment is a top priority at ASML. For me, as a black person from a poor area, this has not always been a given.”

Growing up in the favelas

The favelas we hear about on TV or via the internet, is where André grew up. In the narrow streets and squares of his suburb in São Paulo, one of the largest cities in the world, the neighbourhood is bustling with dance, art and constant encounters. But there is also poverty. The streets are breeding grounds for criminal gangs, who try to tempt young boys with quick money on every street corner.

“A few friends I grew up with have passed away,” André says, now with a more serious look on his face. “At a young age, they were drug dealers, stealing cars or robbing shops and banks. The only way out of this vicious cycle of poverty and crime is by education. But many parents can barely feed their children, let alone pay for their tuition.

Grensverlegger André da Silva ASML
Picture: Max Kneefel | André da Silva

Although Andre’s mom earned relatively well as a teacher at an elementary school, his father lost his job as a metalworker due to automation. Still, the couple knew one thing for sure: their children would escape this vicious cycle. Therefore, André’s father did something unusual within their environment, he became a stay-at-home-dad. Every day he walked André and his sister to their primary school and back. The two children were never outside on the streets without their dad’s supervision. André and his sister had to stay away from the streets at all costs. So their father enrolled them for music lessons, volunteer work and any sport they were up for.

While we look out on a kitesurfer who’s gliding across the water, André sums up all the sports he ever played as a kid. “Volleyball, basketball, trampolining, swimming, tennis, circus sports… And yes, of course, soccer.” When he was still at a young age, his grandmother also gifted him a cavaquinho, a banjo-like instrument the size of a ukulele. He used it to perform and make samba music. “I didn’t have much free time, but that was exactly my parents’ intention. As long as I wasn’t on the streets.”

Just as music and sports helped little André survive in a dangerous environment, many years later his passions also helped him find his way in a totally new city: Eindhoven.

A bit of home in Eindhoven

Just before the whole world went into lockdown due to the corona pandemic, André boarded the last plane from São Paulo to the Netherlands. Going to the office wasn’t allowed, therefore he worked remotely from his new apartment and only saw his new colleagues via Zoom. So, how did he get to know the inhabitants of the city of lights?

“Johan Cruyff fields!”, André says with a smile. He had bought a bicycle – “In São Paulo, cycling through traffic is the equivalent of a death wish, but in Eindhoven it's great!" – and every day he cycled to the ASML office in Veldhoven to view the location from the outside, as he was not allowed to enter.

“And everywhere I passed these Johan Cruyff fields. Of course, that makes my Brazilian heart skip a beat. I made a plan: everyday I would cycle along a specific field to check if there were people around whom I could play soccer with. The first few days, the field was empty, but then I saw five guys playing. I asked if I could join and as soon as they noticed I know my way around the field I was allowed to participate more often. They were my first friends in the Netherlands. Suddenly, I was playing soccer on the street again. As if I was back home in Brazil.

Grensverlegger André da Silva ASML
Picture: Max Kneefel | André da Silva


Eindhoven started to feel more and more like André’s new home. The corona measures were lifted, and André was able to go to the office and explore the city. Although this stimulated his social life, he still missed the liveliness in the evenings like in Brazil. “In many places in the city it is quiet after nine. It makes me feel lonely. But fortunately, many Moroccans and Turks lived in my neighborhood, who also have a more lively street culture.”

Due to the disappearing corona measures, PSV was also allowed to get back on the field. André talks with lit up eyes about the moment a colleague gave him a ticket for PSV-Galatasaray. “I’m a sports fanatic and the whole of Brazil lives for soccer. So you can imagine how happy I was to be there. And to make it even better, it was also in the VIP lounge. What a great experience! Yet, I was amazed by something: there was no music! No music throughout the whole game!”

André wished to attend matches of PSV more often and made sure he got a spot on the reserve list for VIP tickets. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a call. When on a holiday in Brazil, he talked about his DJ set with his mother. That’s when it clicked and he e-mailed the club his idea straight away. “Lounge house music!”, says André. “That’s exactly what was missing!” He offered the club his DJ skills to create a good atmosphere in the VIP lounge, which naturally granted him the opportunity to watch the matches.

Soon after, history repeated itself. Again a +316-number called with good news. Ever since then, he has been a regular DJ at PSV. “The stadium is where I prefer to be in the winter.”

And during the summer, it is of course Cablepark Aquabest, where again his passions for sports and music come together. “From the first day André came here to perform, we’ve embraced him”, says owner Veronique van Beers when André is already grooving away behind his DJ set-up after the interview. “He understands the atmosphere flawlessly and changes his music accordingly.”

Studying from 09:00 to 23:00

For many who grow up in the favelas, André’s story sounds like a dream. But it did not come out of nowhere. After completing high school, André was able to enroll in an IT study at a university, granted the obtained a score of 70 in the national exams.

“One year before, I did a try-out exam. I obtained a score of only 20. Then my parents decided it was all-or-nothing and sent me to an expensive school that would prepare me for my exams. I went there every day after my regular classes. My parents saved every penny and my father started growing orchids and selling them. The last two months before the exam, I studied from nine in the morning until eleven at night, every single day. In the end, I obtained a score of exactly 70 in the national exams. That was my ticket to escape from poverty.”

Grensverlegger André da Silva ASML
Picture: Max Kneefel | André da Silva

“The differences between the rich and poor are enormous in Brazil. Rich children have way more opportunities, because they have received higher education. At the special school I went to, there were almost only white children of engineers, lawyers and mighty men. The differences which arose during slavery in Brazil are hard to catch up with. That’s why I’m eternally grateful to my parents.”

Eindhoven or São Paulo?

André since has moved to a new house around the corner of Effenaar. He has not visited the venue yet, but with a bit of convincing that there is way more on the programme aside from rock music, he promises to visit soon. Meanwhile, his wife and ten-year-old stepson have also arrived from Brazil.

Is there a long-term future in Eindhoven for André and his family? “I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I like about the Dutch. You are all so organized, punctual and above all honest. If someone is not happy with something you have done, that person will let you know immediately. There are far fewer games played in relationships. I’m less enthusiastic about your kitchen, but I really do like bitterballen!”

“Look, I’m enjoying myself here with you at Aquabest, but it is thanks to my parents that I’m here. And they are not here to enjoy it with me. They still live in the same house, in the same neighbourhood in Brazil. Of course the house has been renovated since, but I would also like to change my local community. There is still a lot of poverty. I still have friends there who rob banks. And the Netherlands is a very developed country, where I have learned so much about what can be done differently. I want to share that knowledge with the people in Brazil”, André concludes. “Until then, I want to share the Brazilian warmth and colourfulness with you. See you at Aquabest, or Effenaar!”

In the mood for an evening filled with different styles of music, where you can meet other music lovers from Eindhoven? Dance the night away during Party in Nomansland, where the music knows no borders and it doesn’t matter who you are and where you are from, only if you enjoy to move your feet. Or discover upcoming artist and awesome spots in Eindhoven during the free city festival Hit The City.


Dommelstraat 25611 CK Eindhoven (0)40 311 83 12