Children’s Program

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation For Documentary Photography & Film

New 2015 Children’s Initiative: Lens on the Slum

Slum, ghetto, shantytown, skid row, shacktown – you find them everywhere. From South Africa to the Philippines, the United States to Brazil — slums remain an unfortunate existence for much of humanity.

According to UN-HABITAT, around 33% of the urban population in the developing world, or about 863 million people, live in slums.

What is a slum? Quoting UN-Habitat, “…in developing countries, the word lacks the pejorative and divisive original connotation, and simply refers to lower quality or informal housing. A simple definition of a slum would be ‘a heavily populated urban area characterized by substandard housing and squalor’.”

Reflecting on his own childhood growing up in a rural Puerto Rican slum in a barrio of Guayama, Manuel Rivera-Ortiz strived to overcome the disparaging connotation that slums were a reflection on the quality of the people and their abilities. As a photojournalist, his documentary projects in the world’s poorest areas focus on the spirit and vibrancy of the residents with the slum as simply the backdrop, their home.

Today, the MRO Foundation begins a new venture in the hope that more children like Manuel Rivera-Ortiz have an opportunity to rise above their surroundings by documenting themselves, their lives, and in so doing, show their lives to the world through a new lens.


MROF Childrens Project

Our goal is to bring cameras to children of the slums so that they may capture their own lives and in turn show their perspective, their lives to world on our website. Our aim is initiate a five-slum, multi-year project beginning with Soweto (Johannesburg, S. Africa), Dharavi (Mumbai, India), San Andreas (Manila, Philippines), Rocinha (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), and Jembatan Besi (Jakarta, Indonesia).

We are asking for your support to help us make this project a reality beginning in 2015, for the children. With your help we can make this a reality. We are seeking cameras and funding from individuals and corporations who care about the children as much as we do.