New documentary celebrates Brazil’s Boca de Rua

“Our journalism transforms people’s lives. It shouldn’t just leave them where they are,” begins a new documentary that highlights the work of INSP member, Boca de Rua.

Meaning ‘Voice of the Streets’ in English, the street paper sold in the city of Porto Algere, in Rio Grande du Sol, is the only newspaper in Brazil that is completely produced by homeless people.

The film Boca de Rua – Voices of Invisible People introduces the homeless vendors who produce and sell the paper as a means to both transform their lives and advocate on homelessness, poverty and human rights issues in Porto Algere. It was produced as part of the Rumos Itaú Cultural Program.

It features interviews with several Boca de Rua vendors and contributors, including José Ramires, who explains the importance of the project.

“Before I knew about the Boca de Rua newspaper I didn’t know how to read or write,” says José. “Today, thank God, I read, I write, I take photos, I interview. This was a big deal for me because when I get the paper to sell, I feel like a totally different person.”

The Boca de Rua team aim to show a side to their city that people don’t always see and strive to cover stories that don’t often make local headlines, following their motto “While you were sleeping, lots of things were happening.”

Boca de Rua started printing in 2001 with three people at the helm. Now it is ran by a team of 30. Their work is coordinated by journalist Rosina Duarte, from the NGO Free Agency for Information, Citizenship and Education (Alice).

To date, Boca de Rua has seen 150 people pass through its doors, and least 70 of them are now off the streets.

“It opens doors for a lot of people,” adds José. “Boca de Rua doesn’t turn anyone away.”