Thousands of youths in a Rio slum immortalized in a hit movie are to benefit from a multi-million dollar program designed to give them a career, organizers said Friday.

Some 40,000 aged between 15 and 29 from the Cidade de Deus (City of God) community are to get assistance from a government initiative sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

"We want to give a opportunity ... to those who never had one," explained Morgana Eneile, who coordinates the Caminho Melhor Jovem (better path for youth) program.

The Rio state government is weighing in with $24 million to add to a $60 million grant from the IDB, organizers said.

Cidade de Deus, a western shantytown which was the subject of a 2009 clean-up by police and the military, was famously depicted in a 2002 Oscar-nominated film by Fernando Meirelles about the residents' struggle for survival in a climate of extreme gangland and drug-related violence.

The program was first tested two months ago in another "pacified" Rio slum, Manguinhos, and now is being rolled out on a larger scale.

“Constructing a new life is a long-term task -- up to two years. Youth will be the protagonist of this story," Lino Rocca, the director of the Manguinhos unit, said in a statement.

 

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