The city of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has over 1,000 poor neighborhoods that are infested by drugs and violence. These places are like small cities and they are called favelas.
In 2008 while preparing to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, authorities promised they would regain control of the favelas and bring peace to its residents. Right now only 40 of them are under police authority.
One woman, Angelica Melo, has spent the last eight years filming life in the favelas. She has gained the trust of the men and women who live there because of her willingness to listen to their stories and to help in any way she can. The children look out for Angelica and flock to her anytime she arrives. They also respect her and heed her advice. Angelica states that favelas are dangerous not necessarily because of the people who live there, but because of the things that occur on a daily basis. There is a constant war between drug lords and the police and many innocent people get caught in the crossfire.
One woman testifies that during Olympic preparations, there was peace, but as soon as that was over, the war erupted again. As she speaks, gunshots can be heard in the distance. Then suddenly, heavily armed police officers appear and seem to be chasing somebody. That is everyday life in the favela. All the residents can do is pray and hope that they and their loved ones don’t get shot this time.
Many innocent teenagers have lost their lives and the parents are fed up of the pain. They accuse the police of being murderers and of lacking accountability. This has led to a decline in trust towards the authorities and hostility towards strangers.
The drug dealers recruit young boys from an early age and many who are not recruited go to them voluntarily, in search for ways to make some money or to gain protection.
In order to keep local children away from a life of crime, many small judo clubs have been set up. These clubs give the children the opportunity to become inspired and to dream big. This will help them to make different choices as they grow up and might put an end to the victimhood that now overwhelms the people who live in favelas.