In Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
Rio is home to some of the starkest and most palpable divisions of haves and have-nots in the world. Not far from some of the nicest parts of Rio’s wealthy neighborhoods (like Copacabana and Ipanema), one can easily run into Rocinha (“Row–seen–yah”), one of the largest and poorest of Brazil’s “favelas” (slums) where somewhere between 130,000 – 250,000 (depending on whose estimates one believes) people live in makeshift homes that are quite literally stacked on top of each other along the hillsides.
Though overcrowded, poverty-stricken, education-deprived, and drug-gang-ridden, Rocinha has a lot of heart, soul, and hopefulness.
It can be really easy to judge ‘slums’ like these in very negative terms, but once you experience it for yourself and understand the people, it actually can be inspirational to find love, charity, and creativity thriving under such trying circumstances.