40 imagesThe Vigario Geral favela found its fame on August 31, 1993 when a squad of twenty hooded policemen burst into the neighbourhood with grenades and machine guns randomly killing 21 victims who were mostly women and children. In the wake of the massacre that had its roots in drug trafficking, one man had the courage to build a community centre in Vigario Geral to help victims come to terms with the trauma of the event. A former taxi driver and boxer, José Pereira de Oliveira, also known to friends as Junior, started Grupo Cultural Afro Reggae. The centre came from a tumultuous and humble beginning where it offered music, dance and capoeira (a Brazilian martial art inherited from slaves) workshops to favela children with the simple aim of keeping them off the streets and away from drug trafficking. This new environment was to help encourage children to find the strength to seek a better life, to learn about commitment, discipline and respect. Since then Afro Reggae has become internationally renowned for its music and cause. The band, Banda Afro Reggae grew out of the children that attended the workshops has since toured the world sharing their music and values. They recently launched a music album directed by Brazilian superstar Caetano Veloso with Universal Studios. A feature documentary film Favela Rising was also made in 2005 about Affro Reggae. This is a story about the children in Rio's favelas struggling to find a better future for themselves.