Inspired by the ‘invisible beings’ of one of the biggest cities in the world, the photographer Edu Leporo started to depict homeless people and their dogs in São Paulo, Brazil. The photography essays soon became a social project which now, through donations and funding campaigns, provide care for street dogs and their owners. Edu Leporo is our interviewed personality, a member of our platform Horyou and a change maker for good.

Edu Leporo with Angela, Diego and the dog Spike, who live on the streets of São Paulo (Photo: Gu Leporo)

When and why did you start taking pictures?

I started my photographic records of homeless people and their dogs in 2012, in an unpretentious way. Walking through downtown São Paulo, I saw a homeless man sitting with his dog and wondered: what would their reality be like? As a professional photographer, I have always worked in studios and did photographic essays of moms with their pets. But this has awakened an uneasiness in me and pushed me to do something for those who could not have a portrait – that is the people who live on the streets with their companions.

What was your inspiration?

My profession as a photographer of pets and my love for animals made me register the reality of the streets! To record and tell the stories of love, respect and companionship that go unnoticed by the eyes of thousands of people, certainly, inspired me.

In your work, you unite two causes, the animal care and the homeless people. Apart from photography, is there a social project behind these causes?

After I made several records of homeless people with their dogs, I decided to make a photographic exhibition with this material. All on my own. Gradually, I went looking for partners and we also managed to make a book with these records. That was in 2015. Using the images captured on the streets was my choice to shed light on these “invisible” beings. Soon after, in 2016 we started the Social Project for Street People and Their Dogs (in Portuguese, Moradores de Rua e Seus Cães). We started with a few donations, and today we take action every month in the center of São Paulo where we take all the services and donations for dogs, such as: bath, vaccine, vermifuge, beds, guides, collars and food. For the human, toiletries kits, clothes and shoes and we serve a breakfast.

Photo: Edu Leporo

What were the most striking situations you encountered during this project?

On the streets, there are many remarkable and rich stories. But I want to highlight the story of a couple that touched us a lot: Angela and Diego. They have lived for years on the streets with their dogs, Spike and Star. We have recently discovered that she has Leukemia and we feel the need to help her with her treatment. Fortunately, we were able to start a beautiful campaign with support from ZeeDog and raised funds for Angela’s treatment.

What are the next steps?

Our actions consist of 70% donations (individuals and companies) and 30% money, which we use to buy breakfast items, for example. But this cash aid is always lacking. Today, we seek a support / sponsor to meet our needs, ranging from items for breakfast to relief and treatment for some dog. We plan to launch our second book, with photos and street stories, as well as taking the photographic exhibition to all the capitals of Brazil and abroad. Start the project in schools, giving young people the opportunity to engage in the cause. We also want to set up a mobile community laundry, where street people can wash, dry their clothes and their dogs. Our mission is to open our eyes, hearts and minds, feel that we are only in the beginning.

Change Makers is an Horyou initiative which aims to highlight remarkable people & projects related to the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, we shed a light over #SDG10 – Reduced Inequalities and #SDG15 – Life on Land.

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