April 27, 2016

Rio de Janeiro brings to mind clear sands, warm weather, and tanned girls in bikinis; it’s an exotic vacation destination filled with tourists every day of the year. But in the centre of it all, there are the favelas – the slums that are growing at a quicker rate than the cities as a whole; and with the 2016 Summer Olympics closing in on the city, there’s a renewed urgency by the Brazilian government to restructure the more than 600 favelas in the city of Rio. In pop culture, the critically-acclaimed 2002 Brazilian drama, City of God, brought to light many of the frightening issues facing Rio’s famous Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela, but of course there’s so much more to these slums than the film depicts. Photographer, Ricardo Abraho, and writer, Roberta Mattos, go on a tour with Leonardo Leopoldo (an artisan born and raised in Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha), to visit a favela for the first time, and unlike your dime-a-dozen hotel tour, Leonardo offered one that was full of joy, pride and love for his neighbourhood

Photos by Ricardo Abraho. Story by Roberta Mattos, as told to Adele Chan.


Read more in our #42 How Entertaining issue, out now!