By Sofia Jesus

Macau-based photojournalist Gonçalo Lobo Pinheiro will be sharing, at the University of Macau, on March 9, at 11.30 am, his professional experience  documenting a less exposed part of Macau: the lives of those in poverty.

“Macau is a very rich society, but, still, it has cases like these. Why?” he tells mART, noting it does not manner if those people are a small minority of the population.

The Portuguese photojournalist spent months visiting Caritas Macau’s Casa Corcel, a centre that welcomes homeless people in the city, or low-income individuals in need of support. “I went there during the day, at night, during the weekend…”

The project resulted in the work No Cárcere da Pobreza, a group of 15 photographs published last year in Portuguese newspaper Público’s P3.

As the photojournalist tells mART, it was not easy to earn the trust of those living in the centre or going there for a meal.  Many refused to be photographed — in some cases, they did not even want to have their hands or feet captured by his lens. “And I respected them.” But others did.

At the time he went to the field, there were 78 individuals attending the centre. Mr Pinheiro accompanied their meals, talked to them, showed them the pictures he took.

He felt “there was a need to show these people exist, that they have a voice”.

“Many had a wealthy past,” but eventually ended up at the centre, Mr Pinheiro explains. “There were people that had lost all hope, there were others that had plenty of it.” Some, he says, had been living in the centre just for a few months; others had been there for what seemed like a lifetime.

Documenting this reality in a prosperous city like Macau is something he believes to be of journalistic interest. “It is important to give voice to these people, to hear there stories. They deserve it.”

The photojournalist hopes to develop other works that can document different realities of Macau, many of which are seldom talked about, he says.

His sharing session next month at the University of Macau results from an initiative of the Department of Portuguese’s Language and Culture of Portuguese-speaking Countries course. The photojournalist hopes the session will be a place for exchanging views, including reflections on how issues such as poverty are usually perceived by Macau’s society.