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

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Graffiti on Christmas

Christmas in São Paulo was different than I expected. I spent the day with Pixação artist Yago Assunção de Souza’s family. But the holiday here was less of a family affair and more like a giant block party, at least in Yago’s part of town. People danced in the street and roamed freely from house to house, sharing food, drinks and laughter.

After meeting family and friends, we walked up the block to Nilson Matias’ home, where Yago and Nilson mixed paint and started a full-scale painting. They both elaborately signed their nicknames while sipping beers and smoking cigarettes. Eventually, they hope to paint the entire wall above Nilson’s house, in an attempt to beautify the neighborhood.

After about two hours of painting, the wall is nearly finished.

After about two hours of painting, the wall is nearly finished.

We then left Nilson’s house and headed to a number different locations, where tagging was a bit more dangerous. In a dress and sandals, I hopped fences and climbed buildings, trying to keep up with the boys.

 

I’m not sure whether or not I’ll continue following Yago’s story, as I started another piece on trash collection today. Please check back for updates!

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding.

Back at the farm

I headed out to the Landless Movement farm again today to watch some planting of beans and go on a few errands with Nisse.

These people are genuinely happy where they are, and they really believe in the change they are creating. Nisse and her husband have been living on the farm for over a decade and are still fighting the government to gain official rights to the land. For now, they are happy with their simple life, a plywood home with donated tin roofs and animals roaming freely.

It’s one big family out there. All the families share everything, the crops, the animals, the resources to build and fix homes and anything else you can think of.

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Enjoy the holidays!

-Matt

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

A Christmas celebration for the kids

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With another day at Assistance Association for Disabled Children (AACD) I was able to get to know more of the staff and volunteers that not only keep the place running but also make it exciting for the children. I was invited to their Christmas party which consisted of gift exchanging, singing, dancing and eating delicious food.

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I also met Felipe Alves, 11, for the first time. As an infant his mother was told by her doctor to “throw him in the trash,” because he was born without arms and legs. While he may have a harder time than other children, he doesn’t let his disability get in the way of living his life. He plays soccer just like any other kid and is on a competitive swimming team as well.

Next week I will be going to his house to get a better idea of what his daily life is like.

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Thanks for looking.

–Kaylee Everly