Rocinha Favela by Lene Sørøy Neverdal

After working as a teacher for five years Lene Sørøy Neverdal decided to leave everything and go travel. Photography and travel has been her passion for a long time and Lene felt the urge to go for a longer trip with her camera.

My biggest goal was to take a lot of pictures and develop as a photographer. I went to Latin America and I spent some time in Brazil. In Rio de Janerio I visited Rochina Favela, the biggest favela in the city. I was fascinated by the buildings crawling up the steep hillside and are surrounding Rio and I was curious about the life and the people there. I went there with a guide and we walked through the favela from the top to the bottom. Around the favela you can see big white houses with turquoise swimming pools. The contrast is severe.

In the favelas there are self-contained communities each with its own infrastructure. You can buy almost everything you need, there are hairdressers, banks and even a hotel. There is a lot of crime, and there are gangs that control the favelas and make their own favela law. During the trip to Rochina we saw a lot of bullet holes, and we met a group of young kids with big guns. We felt safe, because we knew the guide was accepted in the favela, and because tourists leave a lot of money in the favelas. They don´t want to lose the tourists or their money. We were not allowed to take pictures of random people passing by. The police stop the tourists on their way out of the favela to look at their pictures. If they recognize the criminals they know where to find them. When the guys with the guns passed us, the guide said, «the most stupid thing you do is to run or take pictures.» That is why the photos from the favela are mostly of buildings.

All photos by Lene Sørøy Neverdal