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Local kids pose outside of the football field in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.
A young girl balances on the fence outside of the football field in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.
A man bounces a football on his knee on Botafogo beach, Rio de Janeiro.
A boy from Morro do Salgueiro wears a necklace depicting Mother Mary.
A young boy strikes a pose outside of Botafogo metro.
A young player pauses mid game in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.
Washington leans against a fence at the football field in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.
Football net at night in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.
A local girl poses at the football field in Morro do Salgueiro.
Two boys guarding the net during scrimmage in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.
Edina Ferreira Prado, 70, prepares to feed her two akitas. The akitas are only two of her more than 100 dogs. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015.
Euracy Aguiar Prado, 80, locking out two of his small dogs from the kitchen. Prado and his wife care for over 100 dogs in their home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 03-15-2015
Edina Ferreria Prado, 70, with four of her dogs. Prado and her husband care for over 100 dogs in their home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 03-15-2015
Edina Ferreria Prado, 70, moves through her kitchen, careful not to step on any of her dogs. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 03-15-2015
Euracy Aguiar Prado, 80 (center) with his wife Edina Ferreira Prado, 70, as they clean up after their dogs. They adopted their first two dogs 15 years ago. Ever since, Mrs. Prado slowly began adopting abandodned dogs from their neighborhood. Today they estimate thay have at least 100 dogs at home. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015
Edina Ferreira Prado, 70, shoos some of her many dogs with a broom. While the presence of so many dogs in such a small space gives off a feeling of chaos, Prado says the dogs are ultimately quite well behaved. Moments of fighting and aggression are outweighed by generally cooperative and playful behavior.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-16-2016.
Edina Ferreria Prado, 70, in her backyard calling for her dogs in a kennel. Prado and her husband estimate they have between 110 and 120 dogs at home. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, (center) greets some of her many dogs in her backyard. She credits her dogs with helping her overcome depression. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, cares for a sick dog in her backyard. Medical costs, including having the dogs spayed and neutered, are some of the main expenses involved in taking care of the dogs. Some of the expenses are covered by the couple's pension, while others are covered by donations.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2016.
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, followed by some of her over 100 dogs as she cleans up after them. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2016.
Euracy Aguiar Prado, 80, plays with some of his dogs in his backyard. Prado says they go through over 400 kg (880 lbs) of dog food per month. Much of the food is donated, while the rest of it, along with other expenses are covered by the couple's pensions. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015.
A dogs world in Edina Ferreira Prado's backyard. Her and her husband take it upon themselves to adopt stray animals from their community. In all, they have over 100 dogs at home. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2016.
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, (center) inspect a puppy that is about to be adopted for ticks and diseases. She
also screens the owners to ensure they will treat the animals well. The organizationshe volunteers for, Resgate de Animais, even visits people's homes to double check that the adopting owners are not somehow harmful to the dogs.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-16-2015.
Euracy Aguiar Prado, 80, (center) looks on as his wife, Edina Ferreira Prado, 70, picks off a tick from a puppy that is about to be adopted. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015.
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, nearly in tears as she gives a puppy away for adoption. Prado said she always fears new owners will mistreat them.
While Prado initially intended to keep the dogs she shelters, their numbers have grown so large that she puts many of them up for adoption. Every Saturday she takes around 10-15 of her dogs to an event to have them adopted. She tries to only give away dogs who have stayed with her for a short time.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015
One of Edina Ferreira Prado's many dogs clamors for attention. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-16-2015.
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, removes ticks from one of her many dogs. Prado expressed frustatrion that people don't spay and neuter their dogs. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-16-2015
Euracy Aguiar Prado, 80, and his wife, Edina Ferreira Prado, 70, walk though a hall in their home. "What is our purpose on Earth?" Mrs. Prado asked. To leave it better than we found it. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-16-2015.
Edina Ferriera Prado, 70, in her yard and with some of her over 100 dogs. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-15-2015.
The Brazilian flag waves in front of Petrobras headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In recent weeks, the company has been embroiled in one of the largest corruption scandals in the nations history. 03-13-2015.
Landless workers rally in Rio de Janeiro in support of Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company. In recent weeks, the company has been embroiled in one of the largest corruption scandals in the nations history. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-13-2015.
A young family from the landless workers movement march in Rio de Janeiro in support of Petrobras, the state run oil company. In recent weeks, the company has been embroiled in one of the largest corruption scandals in the nations history. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 03-13-2015.
Left wing activists gathered in from of Rio de Janeiro city hall in support of the embattled oil giant Petrobras. Activists fear that privatization of the state run oil company will stem from recent corruption scandals.
Assorted left wings pins for sale at a rally in support of Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 03-13-2015.
Rio de Janeiro city hall taken over by protestors defending Petrobras, the Brazilian state oil company. 03-13-2015
Text and Photos by: Tomaso Clavarino
This is a story of former Tutsi and Hutu victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda who now fight together as a volleyball team towards one goal - to reach the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The net is made of plastic tape, the same kind used to delimit the area in-play, and the court is a layer of bumpy cement. Jean Bosco arrives with a backpack and sits on the lawn surrounding the playground. He pulls out a volley ball and starts to change his clothes. He is built like a professional sportsman: tall, broad-shouldered, well-defined muscles. He could be a professional volleyball player, but he is not.
Jean Bosco was never able to play pro ball because he is without a leg. When he was eight years-old, he stood on a mine while he was grazing cows in a field near his home in Butare. It was 1996, two years after the end of the Genocide that shocked a country and left 800 thousand dead in only three months.
The 27 year-old always wanted to become a volleyball player, but he felt fate was mocking him. "I had abandoned any hope. Without a leg in a country like Rwanda, it is difficult to move forward,” he said, removing his prosthesis and putting on a workout t-shirt. “I never thought I’d able to resume playing with a ball like when I was little. But one day, I heard about the Rwandan national sitting volleyball team, and I contacted them."
Since joining the team in 2002 Jean Bosco has not stopped playing, becoming the strength of his club team, the Gisagara Sports Club. They train in this cement field in the outskirts of Butare, the same field the Rwanda national team uses. The national sitting volleyball team was born a decade ago and quickly became a symbol of rebirth and reconciliation in a country where the wounds of war are still deep and the tensions still strong.
Most of the players of the team suffered amputations and mutilations during the Genocide. Others suffer from polio. They train like professionals, three times a week in their respective provinces and then, depending on the schedule of the national team, they all gather in Kigali for team training sessions in the sports hall next to the national stadium.
Soul, captain and founder of the team is Dominique Bizimana, a former Tutsi soldier who lost his left leg during the violence of 1994, when, with the Rwanda Patriotic Front, he helped to liberate the country from the Hutu government responsible for the massacres.
“Before I took up the guns, I was a promising player of Rwandan volleyball,” he said during a break in his training, “then came the war that took away, in addition to the leg, even my dreams. I approached sports for disabled people in the beginning of the new millennium, and I discovered sitting volleyball. I talked with the leaders of the Rwandan Federation and we tried to create a team. Because in the country there are many people who have suffered amputations and mutilations during the war, it was not easy to find the athletes.”
Dominique began going around the country, in villages and cities, talking to those who might be interested, and slowly he managed to form the team.
"We wanted a team open to all, Hutu and Tutsi, victims and perpetrators of the Genocide,” he said. “We wanted to create a team that could be a symbol of rebirth, of hope, reconciliation; and so it was."
The vice captain of the national team, Jean Rukundo, was also a former soldier - but on the opposite side, the Hutus. He also lost a leg during the war, and it was Dominique who recruited him for the team.
"I erased his past. I do not care,” Dominique said. “He was strong, and I asked him if he wanted to be part of the team. He said yes, and from that time he never left the field.”
Jean and Dominique have become good friends, and sometimes they joke about their past. They laugh and dream together.
"We dreamed of going to the Paralympics in London when we set up the national team,” Jean said, “and we succeeded. In a few years we have become one of the strongest sitting volleyball teams in Africa. Now we will fight to qualify for a second Paralympic qualification, in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.”
Under the neon lights of the sports hall in Kigali, the men sweat and train. They stretch, and train near the net. They scream and incite each other on the court, and then they go to drink beers together after training. They have forgotten the past, totally enraptured by the sport and their desire for rebirth. However, the prosthesis resting on the ground on the sidelines remain a warning in a country that is trying to look ahead and forget the horrors of genocide.
Sitting volley is a widely-played Paralympic sport, and Rwanda is one of Africa's best teams.
The players on the team practice different parts of the country so that players from every region can have the chance to be part of the national team.
Two young players, both with amputations, help each other stretch during training.
Many players on the national sitting volleyball team have suffered amputations during the Rwandan Genocide.