São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and the world’s 7th with almost 20 million people, is also home to some of the largest slums in Latin America. Brazil’s favelas are everything you imagine an urban slum to be: overcrowded, unsanitary, and run by crime. Of course, wherever crime and poverty rule, it is always the vulnerable who suffer the most, and the favelas of Brazil are no exception. The children who are raised in the favelas generally miss out on the basics in every sense of the word. Malnutrition means health problems, lack of income means no education, which of course means these children are extremely vulnerable to being preyed on by the drug traffickers and pimps that rule the favelas. The implications are obvious.
I was lucky enough to be able to visit a couple of the larger favelas in Sao Paulo with my continuing work with Iris Ministries. Access has been granted to the favelas because of the fantastic work Iris are doing to help the children and families that live there. From feeding programs to children’s parties, drop-in centres for youth to helping families find places to live, Iris Ministries are changing one life at a time by loving them in very practical ways.
My time in the favelas was like nothing I have seen before, and meeting the people that call these concrete jungles home was humbling. I was limited as to when and where I could photograph for security reasons, but I still managed to capture the heart of the work being done there, as well as some of the beautiful people that I met.