stories

Villa 21

The slum 21 in Barracas, the south of Buenos Aires City, usually appears in TV and local media mentioned to be the «most dangerous slum of Buenos Aires». It is a neighbourhood of 45.000 inhabitants, cornered by the Riachuelo, the dirty river that separates the City of Buenos Aires from the suburbs. With 270 murders in the last 5 years, mainly related to the  quotidien presence of Paco (a drug  consumed mostly by poor children), the neighbourhood is always involved in police chronicles. But when you take the time to search deeper, you might discover that other things are  also happening: more than 20 community dinners, artistic and cultural groups working with young local kids, rehab centers... It´s a neighbourhood where strong bonds of solidarity can still be found among the  people, while they try to survive collectively despite  adversity.

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Miriam is addicted to paco and she lives on the streets of the slum, trying to quit the drug through the different initiatives organized inside the slum.

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View from the rooftops of the precarious houses of Slum 21. Many neighbors built the structure of their homes in a way that, if the economic situation improves, they can keep on building from the roof up.

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Gisel is 21 years old and has two kids: Lucía (3 years old) and Mía (1 year old). Her partner became addicted to paco when they had their first baby. Now he is in the province of Misiones, trying to quit the drug. She is raising their daughters all by herself.... (+)

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Adela is a cook, at home and also at Cambalache, one of the 18 community kitchens of the slum. She lives across the street from the kitchen and has 4 children. One of them is addicted to paco.... (+)

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A member of the Southern Social Circus, an artistic project inside the slum that aims to motivate the youth of the neighborhood and help them in their struggle against paco addiction.

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A member of the Southern Social Circus, an artistic project inside the slum that aims to motivate the youth of the neighborhood and help them in their struggle against paco addiction.

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Dagna with 2 of her kids. She has 3 children, but every now and then she adopts a new one. She teaches catechism to handicapped kids. She is very popular in the slum: she participates on the neighborhood board where she helps solve some of the slum’s daily issues.

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Dagna at home.

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View of the roof of Caacupé Church at dawn.

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Cachilo (22 years old) at Caacupé Church. He trains every morning to become a professional boxer, in a gym inside the community kitchen «Amor y Paz».... (+)

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Julio in front of the slum film club. In the neighborhood, Julio Arrieta’s nickname is «The clown». He is in charge of the organization of a murga group and a community theatre project.... (+)

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Pitu started acrobatics when he was 9 years old attending the Southern Social Circus’ workshops. This organization has been working inside the slum since 1998. Pitu is now 22 and works in a restaurant kitchen.... (+)

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Ofelia, the coordinator of the «Madre Teresa» home for the elderly, inside one of the slum’s churches, where she also lives.

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Father Pepe Di Paola has been living in the slum for the past 12 years. Recently he was in the spotlight of the local press after receiving several threats because of his permanent fight against paco and its dealers.... (+)

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A paco pipe. Paco is a highly-addictive drug made from the residue of cocaine production, that is why it is considerably cheaper. Its main victims are usually poor neighborhood kids from the big cities of Latin America.

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Nearly 15 kids take part in «Hogar de Cristo» self-help groups in Caacupé Church. This rehab program helps children and teenagers leave the path leading to jail or death.

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Nearly 15 kids take part in «Hogar de Cristo» self-help groups in Caacupé Church. This rehab program helps children and teenagers leave the path leading to jail or death.

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Children if the slum.

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Within the slum there are also economic differences between the neighbors. Some of them, with very low resources sleep out in the open air: their paco addiction makes them forget hunger and bad weather.

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An old abandoned corner of the slum. The sign’s inscription: «The neighbourhood park will be built here.»

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Miriam is addicted to paco and lives on the streets of the slum, trying to come off drugs through the different initiatives organized inside the slum.

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