Superwoman

Yesterday, I went to work again with Andreía and her father, Arivaldo. I learned that while hundreds of people collect throughout Sáo Paulo, members of various cooperatives have an easier time gathering materials and make more money than most. Cooper Glicério was even able to afford a mechanical cart this year, giving employees a break from hauling such a heavy bundle.

Controlling Cooper Glicério's mechanical cart, Arivaldo passes a fellow collector. Sergio Bispo, founder of Cooper Glicério, said the cart is worth 4.000 reals (2,000 U.S. dollars).

Controlling Cooper Glicério’s mechanical cart, Arivaldo passes a fellow collector. Sergio Bispo, founder of Cooper Glicério, said the cart is worth 4.000 reals (2,000 U.S. dollars).

Arivaldo loads recyclables into an old Volkswagen van.

Arivaldo loads recyclables into an old Volkswagen van.

Andreía kisses her 10-year-old son, Ruan.

Andreía kisses her 10-year-old son, Ruan.

Arivaldo and Andreía joke around as they head home for lunch.

Arivaldo and Andreía joke around as they head home for lunch.

Only a short walk from the cooperative is Andreía’s home, where she lives with her father, husband and three children. But along with this large group, two other families also live in the small, run-down building.

Andreía's husband Edinaldo, fills a water bottle. Edinaldo used to work at the cooperative too, until he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident two years ago. He's currently searching for work online.

Andreía’s husband Edinaldo, fills a water bottle. Edinaldo used to work at the cooperative too, until he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident two years ago. He’s currently searching for work online.

Three-year-old Marjorye tries on her mother's shoes.

Three-year-old Marjorye tries on her mother’s shoes.

Arivaldo wires electricity from the street, exhibiting just one way that the family saves on living costs.

Arivaldo wires electricity from the street, exhibiting just one way that the family saves on living costs.

During her lunch break, Andreía plays with Marjorye.

During her lunch break, Andreía plays with Marjorye.

I stayed the night with the Emboava’s to see what their daily life is really like. Their sleeping arrangements were like nothing I’d ever seen before. Plywood boards lay across concrete wall structures (without nails or screws attaching them). They climbed ladders to get to these quarters, where small beds or cots were arranged.

If a house like this existed in the United States, it would be condemned.

I was surprised to see such a cramped living area, after I’ve seen how hard both Andreía and Arivaldo work. While I spent time with the family Friday night, they went out to collect yet again.

Edinaldo and brother,  Cleiton talk as Andreía and Arivaldo leave to collect more recyclables.

Edinaldo talks with Andreía’s brother, Ailton, as Andreía and Arivaldo leave to collect more recyclables.

Waiting for her mother and grandfather to return from collecting, Marjorye plays with other girls who live in her building.

Waiting for her mother and grandfather to return from collecting, Marjorye plays with other girls who live in her building.

Her work seems exhausting, but Andreía keeps going when she gets home. She made sure I got a shower and a hot meal, cleaned a cut on her father’s face and put the kids to bed, before thinking about herself. I’m convinced she’s superwoman.

Andreía smokes a cigarette while waking up Saturday morning.

Andreía smokes a cigarette while waking up Saturday morning.

After only one day, I’ve become attached to the Emboava family. I’m going to church with them tomorrow and hope to spend as much time with them as possible during my last week in Brazil.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding

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About Cara Wilwerding
Cara Wilwerding is a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She grew up in Omaha, Neb and started her journalism career at Omaha Westside High School. She writes for the Daily Nebraskan’s arts and entertainment section in addition to taking photos. She’s also traveled to São Paulo, Brazil, for a similar photojournalism project with the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. This summer, she will work as an editorial and multimedia intern for HearNebraska.org, float down the Niobrara River and play a fair amount of ultimate frisbee. After graduating next spring, Wilwerding hopes to continue writing and photographing for an arts and entertainment publication.

2 Responses to Superwoman

  1. Ann P. Wilwerding says:

    Cara your story brings tears to my eyes. It’s hard to imagine working so hard to have so little. You have a special way about you in connecting with this family. Please be careful and continue your good work. Your pictures really do speak a thousand words. Love, Mom

  2. You all are so fortunate to have had this experience. You will remember this trip throughout your life and how much it changed you in ways that you don’t even recognize yet. Thanks for sharing and you all be safe!!!!

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