More times than I can count travelers pop up on travel boards I lurk on looking for assistance about taking a tour of the favelas in Rio. Almost universally I speak against this type of “sight seeing” as I find the idea condescending and exploitative of the residents of these poor neighborhoods.
I recall with distaste tour buses in San Francisco circling through the gay Castro neighborhood, with tourists’ noses and cameras pushed against the windows, looking for sightings of queer locals.
But there are some tour companies here supported by the residents which give proceeds back to community groups. It’s your call.
As an alternative, I have found a collection of photos taken by child residents of Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio, housing more than 250,000 residents. Nat Friedman, the artist behind this project, distributed disposable cameras to 32 kids. In the end he got back 26 with a total of 632 images.
For those who wish to get an inside view of everyday life in a Rio favela (without the sensationalized focus on depravity and violence) I encourage you to visit Nat Friedman’s site and click on the images posted to see the complete set from each child.
Understandably these are images of the children themselves and their family and friends, and not the surrounding architecture, etc. But then – that’s what makes them such a personal take on everyday life.
Tell me what you think.
Again - all of these images are from Nat Friedman's project in Rio.