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

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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

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.

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Staying overnight

Things have been going well on the farm. Nisse and Armando finished the fence they started on the 27th, now the turkeys stay behind the house for the most part. The small turkeys and chickens are able to make it through a hole in the kitchen wall and come in, but there’s not much you can do about that.

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Nick and I spent the night last night, and it was a good night to go. We watched as a rain storm slowly took over the nearest town, covering it in a wavy, gray blanket of rain until the storm reached the farm. Soon, all you could hear was thunder. The lights inside the home flickered on and off until the storm overpowered the electricity and the lights went out.

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The opportunity to document this story is giving me personal stories I will never forget. Last night when we all sat down to dinner on the farm. Nick was digging into his second plate, out of nowhere a chicken jumped up and sat down on his plate. Nick moved his plate around in the air, but the chicken wouldn’t budge. Eventually, Nisse and Armando grabbed the chicken and got him off. Nick dumped the rest of his food on the floor and the chickens cleaned it all up. It was absolutely hilarious and was a moment where all four of us could share in a deep laugh together.
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Time is winding down in Brazil. I’m going to be sad to leave Nisse and Armando and all their animals, but i’ll be making the most of the time we have left.

Feliz ano novo!

-Matt

Bertioga or Bust

Precursor: Please listen to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding while enjoying this blog post.

After three months of research and planning, 60 or so emails, a week in São Paulo and a two hour bus ride, I arrived in Bertioga, Brasil. It looked like a postcard.Image

The harbor is full of fishing vessels and other small watercraft. The downtown area right next door to the shipyard is a picturesque tourist spot complete with traditional Brazilian food vendors and rows and rows of souvenir shops. But, the serene river where the boats are docked is the real sight to behold.

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In the “low season” (Brasil’s winter months), Bertioga is considered a small town of around 50,000 citizens. But, during the height of summer in December, the population booms to over 200,000. I celebrated Christmas in Bertioga with my translator, Karla, and her family. There was no turkey on the table here; Christmas eating in Brasil is all about the Chester (a.k.a. turkey/chicken/butter all rolled into one and cooked to perfection in a ziplock bag).

I will celebrate the New Year in Bertioga as well. I’ve been told that Dec. 31 is the craziest night of the year and that I probably won’t be able to sleep from the fire works and loud celebrations. Nonetheless, I’m still looking forward to starting of 2013 with a splash! Dang it, I love puns.

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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)