Two Dutch artists are transforming a shanty town clinging to the hillside in Rio de Janeiro using buckets of bright neon colored paint.

With the help of 20 local youths in the Santa Marta slum, stacks of huts on several streets are now a kaleidoscope of color.

“It gives the community life!” said Edimar Marcelinho Franco, who once was a local drug dealer and now is a professional painter after having being trained in the skill and transformed 34 of the buildings.

Brazilian paint company Coral, a subsidiary of Holland’s AkzoNobel, offered to help with raw materials and training for the locals.

The ‘Back to Rio’ project became a global story when it raised $112,000 through an online fundraising campaign. Their goal was to paint an entire hillside favela community. In the process, the Dutch mural artists aimed to provide employment for locals and uplift the self-esteem of a heavily populated, tumultuous neighborhood.

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“While painting the houses brings a visual improvement, plastering them helps with controlling moisture, acoustics and temperature,” Haas and Hahn wrote for their Kickstarter campaign. “More people coming to see the artwork will bring new business and employment opportunities for locals.”

“Visual beautification, job creation and boosted pride and self esteem can help to change perception and remove negative stigma.”1711 people donated money to The Favela Painting Foundation and twenty-two individuals gave at least a thousand dollars.

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