Elaine Chen-Fernandez — Photographer based in Hong Kong

Project | Homeless World Cup | Rio De Janeiro


In September 2010, I was lucky enough to have been invited along with 7 other photographers from Hong Kong, Switzerland, Croatia, United Arab Emirates, United States and Brazil to gather for a unique event in Rio de Janeiro called the Homeless World Cup. The Cup, founded in 2003, began as a philanthropic movement that uses sport (more specifically the game of football) as a catalyst to promote social change and inspire those facing homelessness and displacement all over the world. This year, over 50 different nations were represented and more than 30,000 people participated.

Under the guidance of legendary photographer David Burnett, whose photographs have appeared on the cover of nearly every major news magazine, we took on the challenging task of depicting the power of sport as a tool for positive social improvement.

Self-dubbed “The Photographers for Hope”, our team had an exhibit on the final day of the games. The goal was to illustrate these personal stories and experiences through our photography. The photographs we took are snap shots of the athletes involved and communities being impacted in hopes to provide the world with an intimate glimpse of the power of sports and community action.

Since the event, our photo essays have been publicized in the prestigious Street News Services online magazine (http://wwwstreetnewsservice.org/) and exhibited at the Union of European Football Associations headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. Our collaborative work will also be featured at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland in March 2011.

I must say I have never been on such an exciting trip or had so many epiphanies at one time. Combining my passion for photography and the chance to participate in such a meaningful philanthropic movement, I was granted the opportunity to see a side of the world that I probably wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Never in an environment meant for sport competition have I ever seen such camaraderie. The people and players who attended could not be happier at where they were and everyone, no matter their background or language barrier got along immensely well. What a rare and marvelous sight that was!!