The London Olympics ended a little over a week ago. And now that the torch has been extinguished, the athletes have returned home and venues are being repurposed, all eyes are on Brazil as Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Undoubtedly, Rio is stunning. Considered one of the world’s great playgrounds, it’s an incomparable city. Rio often seems postcard perfect – bathed in bright sunshine, blue skies and tropical rainforests. It’s home to the pulsating rhythms of samba and “beautiful people,” enjoying the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. However, there is another side to Rio that’s less glamorous and often tragic – its favelas – the slums perched high above the city, often occupying prime Rio real estate. Favelas have become synonymous with violence; random, unpredictable and yet expected. Case in point, 23 year old Afro-Brazilian Roberto Custódio. Roberto grew up in Complexo do Maré one of the most dangerous favelas in Rio. When he was 13, he witnessed his father’s death by one of the favela gangs. The tragic death left him devastated. Read more