This squat occupies a 4 stories building of a bankrupted industrial chicken slaughterhouse. There are 130 families distributed among the external and internal areas of the industrial plant. These families count on a soon resettlement promise made by the State Government.
Helen landed at Inabú’s squat because she could not afford rent anymore in a close by favela, called Manguinhos. Besides, she narrates that the security situation at Manguinhos was critical at the time, to the point that she was shot at, hurt by a lost bullet inside her home in a routine day of confrontations between drug dealers and the police. After she recovered without permanent damage a friend mentioned the invasion of this factory, so she and her husband decided to move. “To escape rent I went there”, she says. When she’s arrived four years ago, the conditions of the area were practicably inhabitable. There were no electricity, no water, and plenty of dirt from the old industrial chicken’s slaughterhouse. She was the second person to break through, and choose a space in the internal area of the second floor to build her walls. She comments that living in Inabú is a constant survival exercise – “There are subhuman times here”. She dreams of a “proper , decent place” to live.
She, by herself, left Pernambuco’s countryside to Rio de Janeiro in 1975, looking for better living conditions. She comments that the only employment the market offered her was as a maid, working for middle class families. “Up North people do not bother to put their kids in school”. Helen had practically no formal education; however the rectitude of her speech and strength of her opinions indicates that she is a quite cultivated person. “Life was never easy for me. Waking up everyday is a victory. Even though I live in this place, my home is my castle.” She comments that in the poor Brazilian Northeastern region the living conditions have improved significantly in the last years because of the Federal income transferences program “Bolsa Família”. Helen resides with her husband and a son. After almost 40 years in Rio she is been working as a cook in a restaurant for a few years.
Regarding the possible state resettlement from this area to a brand new building Helen says that a similar situation happened at Manguinhos, warning that the whole process presented many flaws. “They (the government) completed the buildings, moved the people in, and then abandoned them. There are many families that are not prepared for such an abrupt change, because they lack education. You ought to keep the place clean and other things. People are not prepared. They need to be thought, to be suported. You can’t listen to music as loud as they listen it here at 7 am. You can’t move your furniture at night”.
She describes that the public health policy “Saúde da Família” follows her hiper-tension quite well, what includes home follow ups. However, the dengue situation is really critic, having several people every season been collectively contaminated. Inside this squat there was also a recent case of meningitis that ended up in death. The sewer runs on open and everybody has direct contact with it. Helen discloses herself – “We are human beings here, we are people. We are really in need of help. Only God takes care of us here. Helen is a woman of faith, and this interview took place in the day commemorating her protective entity, Ogum, or Saint George, within the universe of Brazilian syncretism”.
Lucilene arrived at Inabú coming from Maracapana, state of Pernambuco Northeastern of Brazil. She got there in 2009 with the help of an aunt who was one of the first settlers of the squat. Her aunt offered her part of her space, which she transformed then into an independent house to live in with her three children. She says that she left the Northeastern countryside primarily because her grandparents died, leaving her groundless, unattended. However, the woman remarks that the living conditions up north are harsh. She and her family needed to systematically seek shelter in acquaintances. “I went through a lot living in other people’s houses. My kids grew without a minimum structure”. She comments that the Brazilian Northeastern is only welcoming “for those that have means”. Today she works as a fast food clerk and she waits anxiously for the possibility of finally having a place of her own. “If it’s God’s will, I will have my corner, my home”.
Maria and Tatiana
Mother and daughter arrived at Inabú coming from an area called Rio do Ouro, in Nova Iguaçu, a municipality in Rio’s fringes, metropolitan area. In this old factory the family resides since 4 years. Maria has three kids, including Tatiana. She works as a maid, and bought her space in the third floor of the old slaughterhouse because it was her only option. “This place is terrible, I only live here because I need it”.
Tatiana is 22 years old and is pregnant of her first son. Asked if she has any dreams in life, if she would like to develop in a particular field of work, she answers a crude no, complementing that she wants to work in any field, just work. She also comments that she doubts the resettlement promises made by the State Government.
Carlos arrived at Inabú with his family three years ago, “because he had nowhere to go”, as he says. Before, he resided with a bunch of brothers in an overcrowded house. He depicts the living conditions at Inabú as extremely precarious. Carlos first settled at the old factory’s second floor, a very humid spot. He only managed to escape from this peculiar lodging spot after a domestic tragedy. As they spent time at Inabú another child was born, but unfortunately passed away at the age of six months. According to Carlos, the child died of “humidity”. “ There are many leaks, lots of rats and mosquitos here”. Willian is retired with a special social benefit designed for highly vulnerable individuals. He highlights the terrible service offered by the local public center for social assistance. He concludes with an obscure verdict – “There is no solution for us, only if we decide to die”.
Alexandra is only eighteen but lives at Inabú squat with her husband and daughters since fifteen. One of the girls was even born here. Before, they lived on rent at close by Favela do Jacarezinho, but as Alexandra’s husband lost his job , the family needed to find another place to live. An old neighbor recommended the Inabu solution, a deactivated building from an old industrial slaughterhouse that was being occupied by those in seek of lodging. Having nowhere to go, they accepted the suggestion and joined the squat, adapting their home at the third floor, in an old office. “I was great”, says Alexandra, pointing to the fact that the family was not attached to rent anymore.
About the local lodging conditions the young woman complains about the lack of tapwater and the constant energy breaks, that “deteriorate our fridge goods”. She only studied until the third grade, till she was nine years old. Her work experience is in kitchens and restaurants, although she is not working presently. Her two daughters attend the public municipal nursery.
A tragic chapter of Alexandra’s life story happened right there at Inabu squat. It was a fall she suffered from a roof. Dreadful fall… She was pregnant at the time, 6 months pregnant, pregnant of twins. The babies did not resist.
Asked if she has any dreams, Alexandra remarks that her only wish is to have a proper house for her daughters. “For everything I first consider my family”.