Life On The Tough Streets Of Columbia's Most Dangerous Neighborhood

Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
 
Sometimes we all take for granted how lucky we are to be living in Singapore, where the streets at night are safe to roam even for a lone girl, where crime is usually at an all-time low, where the poor does not have to resort to desperate measures with the help of welfare groups, where everything is so clean and modernized and basically a pleasure to be. Many people in other countries are not as well off as we are. Medellín, a decrepit neighborhood and considered the most dangerous in Columbia is swarmed with prostitutes, drug dealers, and homeless people fighting for survival, but yet underneath all the despair and privation, therein still lies a small glimmer of hope for the unfortunate who calls it home.
 
Once the most dangerous city in the world and the hometown of notorious drug lord, Medellin still remains a battleground for drug dealers and prostitutes who are especially prevalent in the neighborhood of Barrio Triste, situated in the center of the city. Formerly named the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the neighborhood was renamed Barrio Triste which means Sad Neighborhood after poverty struck hard.
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Workers trying to make ends meet by repairing vending carts on the street
 
For three years, 35-year-old photographer Juan Arredondo has documented the harsh life of the residents in Medellin. He became intrigued with Barrio Triste after meeting a mother-of-four who sought refuge in the neighborhood after a paramilitary group killed her husband. Death awaits the Medellin dwellers at any turn but yet, Arredondo remains optimistic for its future after discovering the faith that some of them still carry in their hearts.
 
“Barrio Triste serves a window to the violent past that once plagued the city of Medellín. It reminds me of a past I left behind and the hardship the citizens of this city and this country have endured over many years,” Arredondo remarked.
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A vivid painting of Jesus hangs in a grim workshop
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A scruffy dog who will always be by his master's side through thick and thin, man's best friend right to the end
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
An empty shell of an automobile which had its parts ripped off by scavengers
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Homeless men strip down and bathe in the streets among vendors and traffic
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
In the midst of hardship, a man carries a huge portrait of Jesus Christ the savior across a busy street
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A framed wedding photo depicting happier times is one of this man's few precious possessions in the flimsy walls of his makeshift hut
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Workers unwind and have fun during an afternoon break under the sun with parqu
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A mother cradling her infant child for the last time before he is put to rest in a small coffin
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
The family mourns the loss of the baby
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Homeless teenagers seek refuge in a sewage tunnel
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A drug dealer packing cocaine
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A drug addict smoking crack cocaine to take his mind off his troubles at least for awhile
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
With no where to go and no one to turn to, a homeless man is forced to sleep on a sidewalk for the night
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
The cathedral dominates the slum
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A mother spends time with her son in their tiny room
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Carmen Salgado, 67, has been living is this congested room for 17 years, barely being able to afford the $6.50 rent a day
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Eight-year-old Jenny shares this rented room with her four brothers, mother and step-father
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
A man who has lost both his hands and part of his leg takes a shower in a dilapidated house
 
Barrio Triste Medellin Columbia Slums
Children being children and happily playing together on a rooftop
 
While there is much suffering and depression in Barrio Triste, the indomitable human spirit still manages to shine through the gloom of the city and illuminate a spark of hope.
 
All photos belong to  Juan Arredondo
 

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