In Rio nature and urban design enchant the eye of any spectator.
But Rio de Janeiro, city of tremendous contrasts, also has notorious favelas, slums that harbour violence, suffering, and extreme poverty. Rio’s favelas cut deep into the consciousness of the present, prompting those who believe in social responsibility for action.
In 2008, the innovative and courageous artist JR turned Moro de Providência, one of the most violent of Rio’s favelas, into an unsual art exhibition: He pasted on the facades of buildings in the favela huge photos of women’s faces and eyes expressing horror, but also courage and strength. These women, victims of the violence in Rio’s favelas, were heroines because they preserved their will to live and to help others in spite of the horror overshadowing their own life. It is for this reason that JR called his exhibition “Women are Heroes.” JR’s powerful images drew the attention of the international public to the situation of women in Rio’s favelas. His exhibition set hope. It was the hope that the exhibition will prompt the public to put pressure on authorities in Brazil to take action and to help women in the favelas. More…
Among Rio’s prominent fighters for social justice is Yvonne Bezerra de Mello who devoted her life and work to rescuing and training children from Rio’s favelas. In 1998, she founded the Projeto UERÊ, a school for street children and other traumatized kids. With little money and a team of four dedicated teachers she helped thousands of kids in need, offering them education, food, medical care, and shelter. “Projeto UERÊ attends daily 430 children with severe learning problems and disabilities caused by long-term exposure to violence. Since 1993, a total of 1020 children have received their education at Projeto UERÊ. Our teaching methodology proved to be successful. It helped re-habilitate children and return them to normal school life and curriculums,” writes Yvonne Bezerra de Mello. The City for the Cultures of Peace is in the process of establishing a new education program to help Projeto UERÊ. The school needs your help. For more information about Projeto Uerê, see: www.projetouere.org.br and PROJETO UERÊ
Images and Copy Right: Photo 1: “Aerial view of Rio De Janeiro, including Sugar Loaf Mountain” (Author: Father of J. G. Klein, 1967) © J. G. Klein; Photo 2: Photo by JR of his Exhibition “Women are Heroes,” Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2008 © JR and L’AGENCE VU’ (Paris, France); Photos 3, 4: images of Yvonne Bezerra de Mello and her students © Yvonne Bezerra de Mello and the Projeto Uerê; Photos 5, 6, 7: image of instruction at Uerê, image of Uerê students, and cover of the Uerê-Newspaper © Yvonne Bezerra de Mello and the Projeto Uerê.