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

Rehabilitation

Men pray and sing at the Teen Challenge rehab center outside São Paulo. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Men pray and sing at the Teen Challenge rehab center outside São Paulo. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

After spending most of our time in São Paulo unable to make photos because of safety concerns, yesterday was a sigh of relief. Brianna and I spent yesterday at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center outside of São Paulo. The pastor and others made us feel very welcome and allowed us full freedom to make photos, videos and and do interviews with a worker and a man who is recovering.

Prayer time at the crack rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Prayer time at the crack rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Men say their prayers into their seats. (photo by Anna Reed)

Men say their prayers into their seats. (photo by Anna Reed)

A recovered crack addict and now a worker at Teen Challenge, Robson, walks down the path past the main building on the farm. (photo by Anna Reed)

A recovered crack addict and now a worker at Teen Challenge, Robson, walks down the path past the main building on the farm. (photo by Anna Reed)

We plan to go back this week, early in the morning, when the 50 men at the farm do their daily chores.

Since we started the story of crack addiction in São Paulo, everyone has told us it is a health issue, not a criminal issue. Covering the rehabilitation aspect of the story is very important, and we are excited to see more of what this farm does to help people live a clean life.

Rafael (standing) watches as others in the rehab center play a game of dominoes before prayer. (photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael (standing) watches as others in the rehab center play a game of dominoes before prayer. (photo by Anna Reed)

The main meeting area at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

The main meeting area at the Teen Challenge rehabilitation center. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Thanks for looking,

-Anna

Rafael raises his hand while singing. (photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael raises his hand while singing. (photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael's bible. (photo by Anna Reed)

Rafael’s bible. (photo by Anna Reed)

 

Men stand for prayer and song at the Teen Challenge drug rehabilitation farm outside São Paulo. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Men stand for prayer and song at the Teen Challenge drug rehabilitation farm outside São Paulo. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Christmas in Cracolandia

Gabriella struggles with all her gifts as adults in the area lean against a wall.

Gabriella struggles with all her gifts as adults in the area lean against a wall. (photo by Anna Reed)

Today Brianna and I went with the NGO Cristolandia to give Christmas presents to children living in and around Cracolandia.

Children wait in line for their Christmas gifts. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Children wait in line for their Christmas gifts. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Children stand under a bridge near train tracks in the Cracolandia area of São Paulo. (photo by Anna Reed)

Children stand under a bridge near train tracks in the Cracolandia area of São Paulo. (photo by Anna Reed)

Cracolandia is an area in the Luz region of São Paulo that is populated with people who are addicted to crack. Locals call the area Cracolandia. Men, women and children of all ages and races live in the area and spend every moment looking for their next fix. Crack is a drug that has a short-lasting high, so many people are often on edge waiting for their next hit.

The slum near Cracolandia. (photo by Anna Reed)

The slum near Cracolandia. (photo by Anna Reed)

Children are lead in prayer by Cristolandia volunteers before receiving their Christmas gifts. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Children are lead in prayer by Cristolandia volunteers before receiving their Christmas gifts. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A child who lives in Cracolandia smiles for the camera. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A child who lives in Cracolandia smiles for the camera. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

We have been going to the area all this past week, trying to gain trust and get familiar with the area and the people. We haven’t posted any photos before today because showing a camera can be dangerous. Many people get angry and become aggressive when seeing a camera.

Toys lefts behind to make way for new Christmas gifts in Cracolandia. (photo by Anna Reed)

Toys lefts behind to make way for new Christmas gifts in Cracolandia. (photo by Anna Reed)

Kids run to the Cristolandia volunteers to receive their Christmas gifts. (photo by Anna Reed)

Kids run to the Cristolandia volunteers to receive their Christmas gifts. (photo by Anna Reed)

The gift-giving outing today gave us a chance to make photos in a less threatening way. The children were all very cute, and many were interested in our cameras and our American English. It was definitely a wonderful way for both of us to spend Christmas Eve. Most of the adults in the slum near Cracolandia smoke crack, so giving something to the kids was really great. I think I speak for both of us when saying it has been our best and most meaningful Christmas ever.

A girl poses for the camera after receiving Christmas gifts. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A girl poses for the camera after receiving Christmas gifts. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A woman peers over a door to see what the Cristolandia volunteers are doing. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A woman peers over a door to see what the Cristolandia volunteers are doing. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A child drinks a bottle outside his family's home in a slum in the Cracolandia area of São Paulo. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

A child drinks a bottle outside his family’s home in a slum in the Cracolandia area of São Paulo. (photo by Brianna Soukup)

Thanks for looking and Happy Holidays!

-Anna