Favelas of Fortaleza

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We wondered what an event like the Olympic Games brought the people in Fortaleza, one of the most violent cities of Brazil. Who did benefit? Did the women benefit? Or the children? Did anything change at all?

Fortaleza – We listened to the stories of young girls, children still, and women working in prostitution. It is the only way to gain an income in the favelas of Fortaleza which are dominated by drugs and crime. Favelas where schools and jobs have disappeared since long and where family ties are sometimes strong but mostly destructive. Many women become pregnant at a young age, start using crack supplied by the equally young men from their neighborhood. Than they have to be even more on the streets to deal with the economic demand of their addiction.

“How do you break the cycle?”, we wondered. “By relying on God,” was the invariable reply. We dared to question that but sometimes God indeed shimmered throughout our stay. In the form of young nuns who, armed with a dose of humor, permeated the favelas to provide practical support.Favelas, the rest of humanity has since long deserted. Politicians, doctors nor the police ever go there. We followed the nuns and listened to the heartbreaking accounts of the women in the favelas.

Images: Nicole Franken – Text: Anneke de Bundel

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