A change in energy

Hello from the USA! We all arrived safely in Omaha yesterday after two flights. While i’m glad to be back home with family and friends, I wish my time with Nisse and Armando didn’t have to be so short.

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I spent a little more than two days out at the farm, sleeping in the garage and photographing everything else my story needed. Nicky came and joined me on Friday afternoon, and we started to cover all the holes in the story.

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On Friday night, a little before bedtime Armando told Nicky and I that his heart was going to be very sad when we leave. He also told us the energy around his home changed for the better when we were there, and he was going to miss us. Things like this make me feel so good. I posted early on after my first day at the farm hoping I would leave Nisse and Armando as many memories as I would have. It felt weird not going out to the farm Sunday morning.

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Nicky and I set it up so one of our translators can show them our multimedia project when we finish it, so they can see what they took part in and hopefully create some change for the Landless Movement.

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Have a great day,

Matt

Hard goodbyes

Andreía crochets while watching the news in her bedroom.

It was my last day with the Emboava family and it wasn’t easy to leave. It’s only been a week and half since we met, but I know I’ll miss every member of this family. With tears in her eyes, Andreía told me not to book a hotel if I ever return to São Paulo — she’d rather have me stay with them.

Arivaldo loads a van with recyclables from a public health center.

Arivaldo loads a van with recyclables from a public health center.

Andreía sorts a variety of materials, including plastic, paper and cardboard, among other items.

Andreía sorts a variety of materials, including plastic, paper and cardboard, among other items.

Workers throw bags of recyclable materials over Cooper Glicério's front wall.

Workers throw bags of recyclable materials over Cooper Glicério’s front wall.

Agatha and Andreía laugh at a coworker's joke.

Agatha and Andreía laugh at a coworker’s joke. Sometimes Agatha helps at the cooperative, so Andreía and Arivaldo don’t have to work as long. 

After everything they did for me, I wanted to give the Emboavas a proper goodbye. I printed photos and wrote a letter, which I’ll share with you here:

Andreía, Edinaldo, Arivaldo, Agatha, Ruan and Marjorye,

You’re an amazing family. I feel so blessed for the time I got to spend with you and everything you’ve taught me. My experience in São Paulo was incredible and I have your family to thank.

You’re each special in a different way and I’m so glad I’ve had the chance to see that. Andreía – your generosity and hospitality has inspired me to give more and be open with others, as you’ve been with me. Edinaldo – your smile lights up a room and makes me smile every time I see it. Arivaldo – you’re such a hard worker and you were always looking for ways to help me and make my project better. Agatha – your laugh is absolutely beautiful! I enjoyed spending time with you, your friends and your boyfriend because I got to see you take a break from all the hard work you do at home. Ruan – you’re silly and goofy, always joking around, and you’re pretty good with a camera too! Marjorye – you’re the cutest little girl I’ve ever met. I couldn’t stop taking photos of you, even when I knew I had too many for my story.

Again, I can’t say thank you enough. You represent your country well by showing me what a loving, caring Brazilian family looks like. And you’ve proven to me that you don’t need tons of extra money to be happy.

If I’m ever in São Paulo again, I’ll look you up. I’ll always be grateful for the time we spent together.

Love always,

Cara Wilwerding

Edinaldo and Marjorye watch cartoons before starting their day.

Edinaldo and Marjorye watch cartoons before starting their day.

Agatha loads a bin full of dirty dishes.

Agatha loads a bin full of dirty dishes.

Andreía and Edinaldo have a conversation from separate rooms.

Andreía and Edinaldo have a conversation from separate rooms.

Andreía tries to convince Marjorye to brush her teeth in the shower.

Andreía tries to convince Marjorye to brush her teeth in the shower.

Edinaldo listens while Andreía and Ruan have an argument.

Edinaldo listens while Andreía and Ruan have an argument.

Ruan and Marjorye play with blown up latex gloves.

Ruan and Marjorye play with blown up latex gloves.

Ruan and Agatha laugh at their uncle's joke.

Ruan and Agatha laugh at their uncle’s joke.

Breaking the Cycle

Rafael, right, works on his Bible study at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Rafael, right, works on his Bible study at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Crack is drug that can overtake a person.  It can a make a good, decent person capable of almost anything. Brianna and I spent another day at the rehabilitation center outside the city. All the men are very sweet to us and are good friends with one another.  It is hard to accept that many of them have done some horrible things while they were under the influence of crack. One man, Rafael, the sweetest and most shy guy, admitted to have robbing a family man and taking about 10 dollars. In the process, slitting the man’s throat. He doesn’t know if the man lived.

photo by Brianna Soukup

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Anna Reed)

(photo by Anna Reed)

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

By spending time with the men recovering in the rehab center and with some of the people we met on the streets of Cracolandia, Brianna and I have realized how powerful the drug is.  Nice, good, honest people can be turned to do horrible things; lie, steal, fight and even kill, because of the effects of the addiction to crack. Seeing how the cycle continues and how it can be stopped if more people were able to enter effective rehab makes both of us want to show these peoples’ stories. We hope that by everyone spreading awareness can help to reduce and eventually end the crack problem in Brazil.

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Brianna Soukup)

(photo by Anna Reed)

(photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael's children, Martina (4) and Guilherme (6). (photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael’s children, Martina (4) and Guilherme (6). (photo by Anna Reed)

-Anna

“We have to work for things to get better.”

I’m growing closer and closer to the Emboava family, as I continue to visit them at work and home. The past couple days have been full of happy and sad moments, stressful situations and hard work. I couldn’t imagine living like this every day. But the Emboavas seem to take it all in stride.

Andreía sorts paper in a dumpster.

Andreía wipes her face after sorting paper.

Before heading home for lunch, Andreíá observes a wound on her father's face.

Before heading home for lunch, Andreíá observes a wound on her father’s face.

I interviewed Andreía, Arivaldo and Sergio, the leader of Cooper Glicério. Arivaldo was extremely optimistic while explaining their difficulties and struggles, saying, “we have to work for things to get better.” He talked of a better future for his family, specifically for his grandchildren.

Arivaldo holds three-year-old Marjorye's hand after dancing around the entryway.

Arivaldo holds three-year-old Marjorye’s hand after dancing around the entryway.

Like her father, Andreía also dreams of a better future. She would like to move to a new house within this year, to escape the violence of downtown São Paulo. “I have children and teenagers at home and I don’t want them to grow up here,” Andreía said.

Andreía smokes a cigarette out her front door.

Andreía smokes a cigarette out her front door.

Bruce Thorson watches neighborhood children play across the street from the Emboava household.

Bruce Thorson watches neighborhood children play across the street from the Emboava household.

Andreía and Arivaldo work relentlessly day after day, and that’s inspirational. Not only to me, but to Andreía’s entire family. The children pitch in without being asked, a concept completely foreign to kids in the U.S.

Fourteen-year-old Agatha leads the household when her mother’s not around, cooking meals, taking care of the younger children and assisting her paraplegic father. While I haven’t gotten to know her very well yet, I hope to spend much more time with Agatha before I leave. Strength and perseverance obviously run in the family.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding

A party on the farm

Nicky and I headed out to the farm today, and little did we know, within 30 minutes of showing up Armando and Nisse’s whole family would be joining us for a birthday party for one of their grandchildren. It was amazing how much hard work Armando did for this small, modest party. First, more electrical wires needed to be spliced together. Armando crunched through a wooded area and found the right wires underneath dead leaves and twigs.
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Next, a pool was erected for the birthday boy, turning five, which meant Armando needed to reroute some of the water lines buried underneath the farm. With his heart condition and the hot Brazilian sun beating down, both Nicky and I were worried about how much work Armando was going through.

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All went well though, except the pool collapsed once and all the water spilled out. Everyone feasted on turkeys and chicken, to which I asked Nicky if i had known those animals in the previous two weeks. We decided we’ve probably photographed our dinner a few times by now. After everyone finished, Armando finished up his strenuous chores and sat down with a knife and a fork to eat.

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The whole family was receptive to Nicky and I, which made us wonder how weird the situation must have been overral. Having the kids and grandkids go home and explain the party to their friends. “Oh, it was awesome! There were these two guys with cameras that didn’t speak a word of Portuguese. I’m not really sure why they were there.” I was glad we went though, it’s the kind of event that is important to the story, even if the frames never make it into the final cut. I understand the family dynamic that surrounds these two landless farmers more and am beyond thankful they let me past their gates into the farm. Even if I can’t speak their language.

Thanks for looking,

-Matt

New Year’s Eve on Paulista

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(photo by matt masin)

Last night, the crew trekked up the street to Avenida Paulista for the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration any of us have attended. News stories said the crowd would number in the millions and there would be millions of security officers.

I can’t say if there were that many, I can’t say if there were more, but it was packed as far as the eye could see and everyone was having a great time.

Toward one end of Paulista, the street where the celebrations were held, there was a stage where massive Christmas decorations had been a few days before.

The speed of the infastructure work in Brazil continues to surprise me…from my rooftop vantage point where I shot once by myself and once with Matt for my motoboy story, I noticed that in a matter of days all of Brigadeiro, a main cross street of Paulista, had been repaved. In similar fashion, the whole street of Paulista was revamped for this one evening in what must have been record time. I do feel bad for the cleanup crews, though.

Festivities started at 8 p.m. and I’m not sure that they ever ended.

Here’s what our cameras saw last night; we wish you all a happy new year.

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by anna reed)

(photo by anna reed)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by matt masin)

(photo by matt masin)

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by brianna soukup)

(photo by brianna soukup)

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by andrew dickinson)

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(photo by andrew dickinson)

(photo by brianna soukup)

(photo by brianna soukup)

Happy 2013. Stay well, stay happy, stay safe and appreciate everything and everyone that you have.

AD

Laundry day

The Emboava family spent this afternoon sorting, washing, hanging and folding almost all the laundry in their home. And as many Brazilians know, doing this all by hand is quite the task.

I’ve been hand-washing my own laundry in our hostel and it’s an incredibly time consuming job. I never realized how much I take my washer and dryer for granted.

As I spend more time in their home, I continue to learn new things about the family. Two years ago, Andreía bought this building for 2.000 reals (1,000 U.S. dollars). The two other families living here pay her 300 reals per month — money which Andreía uses to better their living situation.

Eventually, Andreía dreams of saving enough money to find a new home, but said it could take a while. She said it will help when her oldest daughter, 14-year-old Agatha starts working too.

Andreía smokes a cigarette while taking a break from folding laundry.

Andreía smokes a cigarette while taking a break from folding laundry.

Three-year-old Marjorye squeegees the sidewalk in an attempt to help with household chores.

Three-year-old Marjorye squeegees the sidewalk in an attempt to help with the numerous chores.

After completing a full weekend of household chores, and in anticipation of a long week at work, Andreía said she’ll sleep well tonight.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding