Im a photojournalist based in Michigan who has done international work in Rio de Janeiro, Democratic Republic of Congo, Italy, and Iceland. Willing to travel.
In 1994, with the end of the Rwandan genocide, upwards of two million Hutus fled Rwanda to the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the time named Zaire. The Rwandan Hutus attacked the Tutsi population of Zaire, and thus began the Rwandan and Ugandan funded rebel groups that have persisted through both of the Congo wars, to the present day. As with any war, there were those caught in the crossfire; innocent civilians forced to flee their homeland as their homes were ransacked, women raped, and land stripped of its many riches. Today, millions remain displaced hoping to one-day return to their homeland.
While Goma and its surroundings have become much more secure and free of rebel attacks in the recent years, the North-Eastern Kivu region, specifically Beni territory, remains a volatile hot spot for rebel attacks. The primary perpetrators in this region are the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces), a Ugandan rebel group notorious for its Islamic ideologies and massacres of villagers. The most recent attack took place on July 5th, 2016, when 9 civilians were killed not far outside of Beni on the outskirts of Oicha. The ADF attacks sporadically, and has killed over 1,100 people since October of 2014.
With attacks still taking place, civilians continue to be forced to leave and find refuge throughout the country. These people, referred to as IDP’s (Internally Displaced Persons), now face a new struggle – surviving without aid. As of June of 2016, all aid distribution has been cut to the refugees due to a lack of funding and resources. The refugees must now pay for all basic services including health, education, and water. To survive, residents of the camps have created their own sustainable economies by selling charcoal, vegetables, and firewood at makeshift markets.
This photo essay documents football in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro. My focus was on the local players rather than the game, but at the same time eluding to the sport throughout the essay.
Football serves as more than a past time to many of the residents of Rio and its favelas, it brings a certain hope that transcends dreams. The sport seemed to be the beating heart of each of the communities I visited and photographed, a common passion and dream shared by children and drug traffickers alike.
A man in Mugunga refugee camp expresses his frustration, saying, “It is better to go home and risk the rebels than die of starvation here. It is better to die and be buried at home.” He also explains that the plastic bottles he holds are what they are forced to used as firewood, when they cannot afford to purchase it. June 18, 2016.
A pygmy woman rests near Oicha, Beni territory, not far from the recent attack on July 5th. Pygmy’s, who have been forced out of their homes in the bush by the ADF, now seek refuge in mud huts closer to the village. June 23rd, 2016
A pygmy man poses inside his mud hut near Oicha, Beni territory. The only aid remaining outside of Goma is RRMP (Rapid Response to Movement of People), an aid group helping those in immediate crisis from the conflicts. Refugees around the nation are all facing the same crisis – no more aid. June 23rd, 2016.
A woman in Mugunga refugee camp sells potatoes at the market located in the center of the camp. Other popular vegetables being sold include cassava, maize, and beans. June 17, 2016
Children in Mugunga refugee camp rest after hauling large bags of lava rock to be sold for building material. Since the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in 2002, refugees have used the lava rock as foundation support around the tents as well as a means of survival. June 17, 2016
Women residents of Mugunga refugee camp carry large bags of charcoal to be sold at the camps market. June 17, 2016
A child resident of Mugunga refugee camp stands outside her home. Many children have no memory of what their parents call home, as their entire life has been spent in the camps. June 18, 2016
A woman inside her home in Mugunga refugee camp washes dishes after preparing a meal of beans. June 18, 2016
A man in Mugunga refugee camp sews material to be sold at market. June 17, 2016.
Children gather rain water in Mugunga refugee camp for drinking. Without aid supplying free water, many refugees cannot afford the commodity of clean drinking water. June 18, 2016
A child resident of Mugunga refugee camp. June 18, 2016
A woman in Mugunga refugee camp makes charcoal, a common resource used by the refugees and sold at market. June 18, 2016
Children watch as Mercy Corps distributes its last supply of water containers in Bulengo refugee camp. Mercy Corps was the last aid group to leave the camps surrounding Goma. June 17, 2016
A view of Bulengo refugee camp on the outskirts of Goma, DRC. June 17, 2016
Washington leans against a fence at the football field in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.
Two boys guarding the net during scrimmage in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.
A young player pauses mid game in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.
A young boy strikes a pose outside of Botafogo metro.
A local girl poses at the football field in Morro do Salgueiro.
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 girl balances on the fence outside of the football field in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.
Local kids pose outside of the football field in Morro do Salgueiro, Rio de Janeiro.
Football net at night in Pavão Pavãozinho, Rio de Janeiro.