S.S
Director | WRITER | Photographer
© SDFilms MMXX

Gruelling Guate.

Shot on Assignment for Save the Children

Guatemala has a recent and bloody history of civil war, poverty and genocide. It’s capital boasts the world’s second highest homicide rate. Social injustice is rife with 84% of the arable land owned by only 2% of the population. And youth unemployment is rising along with gang violence and control.

Guatemala city’s booming population of 3.5 million sadly finds more and more obstacles to maintaining a safe, secure lifestyle with an average of almost 5500 people being murdered every year. And yet life must continue.

This series is set amidst the rolling slums that stretch across steep, lush hills surrounding the capital’s north: the battleground for the notorious Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street gangs. Both gangs have established an organised international presence, supporting murder, rape, extortion, kidnapping, prostitution and trafficking in drugs, humans and arms. Such 'red zones' have developed throughout the city, known as dangerous, violence-ridden pockets where outsiders are unwelcome, and police and journalists routinely targeted.

Nonetheless, local young mothers continue to send their children to school here, small businesses labour to operate and a sense of community in each district prevails - precarious yet running deep.

Violence and crime remains just one facet of daily life; a dramatic, uncertain existence where murdered gangs members are seen strewn across sidewalks on a child’s afternoon walk to school, where every other weekend families mourn another loss in the neighbourhood, where youths must find constructive ways to cope with this reality or risk being defined by it.

Looking beyond the gore and barbarism itself, this ongoing project aims to examine the psychological effects on the capital’s youth, of growing up around such stark violence, social inequality and fear.

Gruelling Guate.

Shot on Assignment for Save the Children

Guatemala has a recent and bloody history of civil war, poverty and genocide. It’s capital boasts the world’s second highest homicide rate. Social injustice is rife with 84% of the arable land owned by only 2% of the population. And youth unemployment is rising along with gang violence and control.

Guatemala city’s booming population of 3.5 million sadly finds more and more obstacles to maintaining a safe, secure lifestyle with an average of almost 5500 people being murdered every year. And yet life must continue.

This series is set amidst the rolling slums that stretch across steep, lush hills surrounding the capital’s north: the battleground for the notorious Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street gangs. Both gangs have established an organised international presence, supporting murder, rape, extortion, kidnapping, prostitution and trafficking in drugs, humans and arms. Such 'red zones' have developed throughout the city, known as dangerous, violence-ridden pockets where outsiders are unwelcome, and police and journalists routinely targeted.

Nonetheless, local young mothers continue to send their children to school here, small businesses labour to operate and a sense of community in each district prevails - precarious yet running deep.

Violence and crime remains just one facet of daily life; a dramatic, uncertain existence where murdered gangs members are seen strewn across sidewalks on a child’s afternoon walk to school, where every other weekend families mourn another loss in the neighbourhood, where youths must find constructive ways to cope with this reality or risk being defined by it.

Looking beyond the gore and barbarism itself, this ongoing project aims to examine the psychological effects on the capital’s youth, of growing up around such stark violence, social inequality and fear.