The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony was held at Rio’s legendary Maracana Stadium, built for the 1950 World Cup. One of Rio’s oldest ‘favelas,’ or informal communities, Mangueira stands on a hillside above the stadium. In Rio the striking gaps between rich and poor are often clearly visible, with ‘favela’ communities located alongside wealthier neighborhoods.

We felt it was important to register life outside of the stadium at the moment the fireworks were lit, given the economic and political situation in the country.

I was invited to photograph the fireworks from the rooftop of a Mangueira resident’s home. The view was spectacular, but the warmth and hospitality of the people from Mangueira was much more memorable. I was welcomed with open arms and I won’t forget how kind and welcoming the folks of the community were. I have been there several times now and the community remains an incredibly strong historic and cultural anchor of Rio, in spite of serious problems including poverty, gang and police violence.

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