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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
27 Nov 2016

Magui Méndez, a local from Villa 31 recruited for the opera, sits off to the side of the stage on a prop suitcase, crossing her legs and waiting for her cue to enter the scene.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
27 Nov 2016

A police officer obliges young boys living in the villa to leave the stage after a back-and-forth battle with the stage hands that lasted the entire show. "This is our home," yells one young man as he's motioned away.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
27 Nov 2016

Children who just can't stay still for the opera snag a front row street by climbing right up on to the stage to watch the most intense moments of the opera's action.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Julian Cabrera, one of the professional actors involved in the opera, poses for press while one of his cast mates, a young man recruited from Villa 31, looks back at photographers.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

The orchestra warms up before their conductor takes the podium. Behind them, the young boys from the villa use the spare set pieces as a jungle gym.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Police roam the grounds of the run-down futból field where the opera is performed, making sure that no crime manages to put a damper on the performance.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Star soprano Julieta Sch poses for local press with a megaphone tilted toward the sun as it sets over the villa.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A full orchestra was present for Ópera Periférica's debut in Villa 31, the largest slum in Buenos Aires. Recent estimates put the total population at at least 40,000.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A member of the orchestra expertly plays his violin as young men from the villa look in on a rehearsal before opening night.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A crowd from Buenos Aires slum Villa 31 look on as the cast of La Serva Pedrona makes its way around the stage. They smile in amusement as most of them are introduced to the world of opera for the first time.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Candelaria Sesin looks back coyly at the camera as the cast drives around the set in circles, providing a photo op for local press and people in the neighborhood armed with camera phones.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

The cast struggles over suitcases as the director Foladori presses them for more.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A group of onlookers represent the variety of generations living in Villa 31. From a young girl transfixed by spectacle with her father, to a young woman inside the mesh fence, who also watches with the same quiet interest.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A group of young men coming home from work happened upon the opera in their neighborhood. Drawn in by the strange proposal, they hoped that it would be well received by others in the barrio.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Final adjustments are made as the sun sets on the final evening of rehearsal.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Director Pablo Foladori tries to hide his stress as he gives last-minute pointers to his cast, just a few nights before the opera will premiere in Villa 31.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Performed in its original Italian, the opera is translated on a large screen for the audience. To the bottom left, a group of children watch intently as the actors struggle over luggage.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

Police lights flash in front of a local eatery selling sandwiches filled with chorizo as the cast takes a victory lap around the set in the back of a trailer pulled by a motorcycle, giving off clouds of noxious fumes as it makes its rounds.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A man sits dejected behind a shopping cart full of old clothes, just outside the futból field where the opera is being held. His mind seems to be elsewhere.

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Opera's Opulence Hits Buenos Aires' L...
Villa 31
By Zachary F. Volkert
24 Nov 2016

A group of children watch the opera as if it were a Saturday morning cartoon. Parents from all over South America commented on the positive influence that the free cultural event had on their kids.

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Children of a Philippines Slum
Cebu City
By Ralf Falbe
12 Feb 2016

Children in a Shanty Town in Cebu City, Philippines. The NGO German Doctors offers free medical treatment to the people here.

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German Doctors NGO
Cebu City
By Ralf Falbe
12 Feb 2016

A Filipina volunteer nurse works with the NGO German Doctors to provide free medical treatment in a village of trash collectors near Cebu City in the Philippines.

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German Doctors Hospital
Cebu City
By Ralf Falbe
12 Feb 2016

A nurse examines a child at the German Doctors Hospital in Cebu City, Philippines. The NGO German Doctors offers free medical treatment to the city's slum dwellers.

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Slum Priests in Argentina, between So...
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
18 Jun 2015

Imagine a vicar, bored and tired of giving sermons to old devout women of his parish. His mind is somewhere else. Imagine this same priest all day long, walking around, riding his bike on the dirty and destroyed roads of the Buenos Aires’ slums; trying to avoid all the holes, puddles of water… surrounded sometimes by exchanges of gunfire. In Argentina, slum priests (“curas villeros”) became famous when the Vatican elected Jorge Bergoglio, former archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope Francis, in February 2013. If Francis is now considered as a “popular” Pope (or Pope “of the poor”), it is thanks to one of the “curas villeros”, Father “Pepe”, who had received Bergoglio in “his” slum to show him the plight of the people in his overwhelmingly impoverished parish.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio himself had always been a fervent partisan of (popular) Liberation theology and tolerated and engaged with the popular devotional practices of these unprivileged populations, mostly composed of immigrants from nearby Bolivia or Paraguay. Popular religiosity is the only leitmotiv of these activist priests. They are often in conflict with the Vatican, who has labeled them as “heretics,” because of their having baptized children of single mothers and for having tolerated popular devotional practices towards unrecognized saints. They don’t hesitate to stray from Catholics dogma, which they sometimes find ignores the issues facing the people in their parishes. At the same time, “slum priests” also stay away from local politics.

“Here (in the “villas”), there are no right or left-wing positions. All the matter is to get water, access to electricity, and to improve daily life,” insists Father Gustavo Carrara.

All around the Argentinean capital and its huge suburbs, these “slum priests” try to help the city’s most impoverished people, whose numbers have increased between 2010 to 2014 with the population of these “villas” passing from 163,000 to 275,000 in Buenos Aires alone, according to the local secretary for housing. Far away from the sumptuous Cathedral of the “Plaza de Mayo” in Buenos Aires, slum priests are practicing in precarious parishes, built by themselves with the unconditional help of neighbours. Among the religiously devout social activists offering their help to these vicars of the poor are psychologists, social workers and spokespeople for the marginalized. Suspicious towards corrupt policemen and the shady politicians, they fight alongside these priests to save the youth from the dangers of the street, from drugs, and to help struggling mothers.

 

Les pretres des pauvres: entre la révolution et l'héresie​

Les prêtres tiers-mondistes en Argentine, entre révolution sociale et hérésie ? Imaginez un curé fatigué de donner des sermons aux vieilles dévotes de sa paroisse. Celles-ci l’ennuient, à la longue, car il a mieux à faire. Imaginez ce curé passant ses journées à déambuler en vélo dans les rues en terres des bidonvilles, en évitant les trous, les flaques d’eau… et les fusillades ! En Argentine, les curés tiers-mondistes (“curas villeros”) sont devenus célèbres lors de l’élection de l’ancien archevêque de Buenos Aires, Jorge Bergoglio, devenu le Pape François en février 2013. Si François est aujourd’hui présenté comme le Pape “du peuple” (ou “des pauvres”), c’est essentiellement grâce à l’un de ces “curas villeros”, le Père “Pepe”, qui le recevait dans “son” bidonville, afin de l’alerter des problèmes du peuple.

Aux quatre coins de la capitale argentine, ainsi que dans son immense périphérie, ils viennent en aide aux plus démunis, dont le nombre ne cesse d’augmenter (de 2010 à 2014, la population des “villas” est passée de 163.000 à 275.000 personnes dans la seule ville de Buenos Aires, selon le Secrétariat de l’habitat, et dont les problématiques sont trop souvent oubliées des pouvoirs publics. Bien loin de la Cathédrale fastueuse de la place de Mai de Buenos Aires, les curés villeros exercent dans des paroisses précaires, qu’ils ont souvent dû construire eux-mêmes, avec l’aide inconditionnelle des riverains. Ces sacerdotes hors du commun, vêtus aussi humblement que leurs fidèles, sont un mélange d’assistants sociaux, de psychologues et de porte-paroles des pauvres. Méfiants vis-à-vis des policiers corrompus, des représentants politiques véreux, ils repêchent les jeunes de la rue et de la drogue, assistent les mères désemparées, qui ne savent plus quoi faire de la ribambelle d’enfants arrivés trop tôt…

Ces hommes de terrain ont comme seul mot d’ordre la religiosité populaire. Ils se sont parfois attirés les foudres du Vatican, qui les considère comme des “hérétiques”, pour avoir notamment baptisé des enfants de mères célibataires et accepté la dévotion des villeros pour des saints et des vierges non-reconnus par l’Église. Ils n’hésitent pas à prendre certaines libertés par rapport au dogme catholique et aux concepts de l’Eglise, parfois complètement déconnectée de la réalité sociale, même s’ils se défendent d’appartenir à quelconque mouvement de gauche ou du péronisme.

« Ici (dans les villas), il n’y a pas de droite ni de gauche : tout ce qui importe, c’est d’avoir de l’eau, de l’électricité et de vivre mieux », insiste ainsi le Père Gustavo Carrara.

Jorge Bergoglio lui-même a toujours été un fervent défenseur de la Théologie du Peuple, refusant de condamner leur vision de la foi et s’appuyant sur les croyances populaires de cette population déshéritée, qui compte un grand nombre d’immigrants (Boliviens et Paraguayens).

 

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST / ARTICLE COMPLET DISPONIBLE SUR DEMANDE

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Football in Rio Favelas 10
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

Local kids pose outside of the football field in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 09
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

A young girl balances on the fence outside of the football field in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 07
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

A man bounces a football on his knee on Botafogo beach, Rio de Janeiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 08
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

A boy from Morro do Salgueiro wears a necklace depicting Mother Mary.

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Football in Rio Favelas 05
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

A young boy strikes a pose outside of Botafogo metro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 04
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

A young player pauses mid game in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 02
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
02 Apr 2015

Washington leans against a fence at the football field in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 01
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
30 Mar 2015

Football net at night in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 06
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
30 Mar 2015

A local girl poses at the football field in Morro do Salgueiro.

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Football in Rio Favelas 03
Rio de Janeiro
By Luke Dennison
30 Mar 2015

Two boys guarding the net during scrimmage in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.

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Homeless Child
Manila
By Ralf Falbe
08 Jan 2015

Homeless street child on Adriatico Street, Ermita District, Manila, Philippines.

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Le club de mon quartier
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

A virgin watches over the community during the years-end festival. Behind, a sign reads "CLUB ATLETICO MADRE DEL PUEBLO, EL CLUB DE MI BARRIO," the association that organizes sports and cultural activity in the neighbourhood.

Pendant la fête de fin d'année à la villa, une vierge veille sur le voisinage.
En fond: "CLUB ATLETICO MADRE DEL PUEBLO, EL CLUB DE MI BARRIO" ("le club de mon quatier"), l'association géré par les habitants et les curés, qui organisent de multiples activités culturelles et sportives

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Fête populaire dans la villa
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

In the "First of November 2014" slum, also called "Bajo Flores," a festival is organized by the parish and the community.

Dans la villa 1-11-14, dite du « Bajo Flores », une fête organisée conjointement par la paroisse et les habitants.

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Padre Gustavo
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

Father Gustavo is a key personality in the city, promoting social cohesion and the community's visibility.

Le Père Gustavo est un personnage-clé de la villa, clé de voûte du vivre ensemble et de la visibilité du quartier.

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Papa Francisco
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

Pope Francis waves from a mural adorning the wall of the San Lorenzo football club's stadium.

Le Pape François (Papa Francisco) vous salue, depuis les murs du stade du club de football San Lorenzo, "son" club.

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Villa
Buenos Aires, Argentina
By Fabien Palem
01 Dec 2014

The entrance to the "First of November 2014" slum, seen from the San Lorenzo stadium.

L'une des entrées de la villa 1-11-14, vue depuis le stade de San Lorenzo.