The factory has been squatted for 12 years. It used to be a towels and baby clothes factory. The old building and industrial shed are used as residences. At the moment 180 families live there. This population has a ressetlement promise made from the State Government.
Sonia, who used to live in the top floor of the building, had to move to a dark, non ventilated apartment in the precarious first floor. This happened because her original house is in a collapse danger. The actual apartment where she resides is an improvised division from an office of the old factory. It’s organized as two rooms, divided by a light curtain. As she speaks her beans are cooking and the television is as loud as it can. The lady has arrived at Carandiru 7 years ago. Before she lived in Jacarezinho.
The woman has moved to this invasion because she couldn’t afford rent anymore. Sonia is the only adult in the family, which includes 4 kids and an adolescent, who are either her grandchildren or her own children. She has no husband. Works sporadically as a maid, but have never had a formal labor contract in her life. She protests intensely her lodging conditions, particularly the sewer that floods the corridors and leaks in her place, also the mosquitos that ferociously attack everyone.
Ana Lucia lives in the second floor of this abandoned building. The reduced space she occupies is a rustic division from offices of the old factory, done with wood and cardboard. A hole in the front wall of the building guaranties the entrance of air and light. She describes how affected she is by mosquitos and rats, and how her health is fragile, being a serious diabetics. Her health condition is followed by a nearby public health care unit. She came to Rio from the State of Espírito Santo 30 years ago, along with 12 brothers. She says that all of them are dead. She arrived at Carandiru because she lost her previous house. Eight years ago used to live with her mother. However when the mother died the property of the house was transferred to her stepfather’s sons. After that she was homeless, having only the streets to live in.
Ana emotionally describes that she used to live with two granddaughters, who are now under the state care in a public shelter. The girls’ mother is addicted to crack and lives in the street. Because of her diabetes Ana spent two months hospitalized. Therefore the girls had to go to a public shelter. She frequently goes to the shelter to bring her food.
About Carandiru she emphasizes that the massive presence of mosquitos is dangerous to human life. She has no tap water in the house, what obliges her to go up the steep stairs with full buckets. In rainy days the water mixed to the sewer invades her house causing health problems to her grandchildren. – “This is a place where you have to ask for help!”.
Rosemeri got to Carandiru 8 years ago. She lived for several years with a friend in Jacarezinho. After an argument her friend expelled her from the house. Then she found herself with no roof of her own. Today Rosemeri resides in a room of Carandiru’s third floor with a 11 years old daughter. She has no other relatives in life.
For making a living she collects recyclable garbage in the streets. Affirms having no shame of her professional activity, even though has suffered a lot of prejudice in the past, as she began the field. Now a days, the woman comments that is already used to the toughness of the work and doesn’t notice any more specific bias related to collecting garbage.
Margarida is 67 years old widow. She lives with five grandchildren and two daughters in a shack localized in the old shed of the factory. This old industrial shed only conserves its original area and metallic structure used to hold the roof. The woman was born in Cataguases, State of Minas Gerais, from where she escaped misery by coming to Rio in her childhood. Ms. Margarida raises from her sofa with difficulty. She feels very tired because she walks all day long, collecting recyclable garbage. The toughness of the activity has weakened her health. She is a diabetics and has suffered two heart attacks not long ago. Even though entitled to get retired by an age criteria, she can’t get the benefit because had lost her marriage certificate in the collapse of her old house. She used to live in Jacarezinho but her house was too old and went down after a heavy rain, burying her documents and belongings. She ended up in Carandiru with the help of one of her sons. The woman exalts the public health offered in the area by a Family Clinic, explaining that after a period of hospitalization she was treated at her house daily by the nurses of this public equipment. – “The sickness is really difficult to endure, but not invencible”.
Cirlei got to Carandiru 8 years ago coming from a violent real state experience. She used to live In Jacarezinho and sold her house in the pursuit of a quieter life in the “far West” of the city, within a public housing project neighborhood called Nova Sepetiba. There she spent a few months until was surprisingly expelled from her home by the local mafia. She describes that as went for groceries in the middle of the day, comming back found a different family was living in her house. The local mafia had sold her house as it was theirs to somebody else. The only option offered by the militia man was Cirlei to enter in someone else’s house, however without his criminal authorization. The woman was roofless when she found Carandiru by a friend’s advice. Today she lives there with a grandchild and an adopted daughter, who she’s been sheltering a few years, because the little girl’s family neglected her. The child was “given” to Cirlei.
She also criticizes the lack of sports and leisure options for the area’s kids. She complains about the absence of NGO’s and social initiatives. – “The kids here have no means to evolve”.
Alex was one of the original squatters of Carandiru. He has arrived there 12 years ago. He got to this place because he started a family and couldn’t afford rent. His house is actually inhabitable, sewerage that invaded nearby houses in the old factory building is affecting his old shelter. He’s managed to borrow a wooden shack just in front, where he’s been living precariously for the last 12 years. Alex is a locksmith assistant but is now unemployed. He works doing small services, collecting recyclable garbage, dismantling or fixing household appliances. He shows a microwave that he is trying to fix and then sell for 20 reais. Alex is married and has three kids. The man complains, among other things, about the unbearable mosquito situation in Carandiru. They are attacking his little one, Alex Junior, unmercifully. He counts on churches support, protestant and catholic, to feed his family. They occasionally offer him small jobs or food. There is also the Federal Government’s help which transfers monthly the amount of 32 reais through the Program “Bolsa Família”. He can only survive on people’s solidarity. –“The neighbors he are quite united”.