Edilene Nascimento Silva

"I hadn't even taken my things out of the house"

Coming from

Now living in

I hadn’t taken my things out of the house. Before we could take them out, they already had a team knocking the walls down, the windows, the doors. That’s what it was like, we didn’t have time to get our things. A lot of things were left there, because I couldn’t get them. It happened very fast, they told us to leave, or they wouldn’t have time to take everyone out of there. They told me my house was estimated at 7,000, and said you have two choices. Take the 7,000 or the house. I chose the house, I had two children, maybe if I was single I would have chosen the 7,000, and found a way. But I had two children. Before we came here, one was seven, the other was eight. It’s going to be six years soon since we came here.

That house there, I had lived in it for 13 years. My children were all born there, everything. I never even dreamed I would have children, like a lot of people. There were people who had lived there for 45 years. My neighbour had. Now, she lives on Ilha [do Governador], in a rented place, because she didn’t accept the new house, and she also didn’t accept the compensation because it was very small, so she went to court and the case is still going.

My sister-in-law slept on the other side of the highway until they brought a removal van along to take her things here to Ilha. As an emergency, everyone slept in the middle of the streets. It was a huge sense of despair, I cried a lot, you have no idea what it was like.

[Did they explain why you were being evicted?]

It was the new lane of the BRT [bus rapid transit]. The expansion of Avenida das Americas. Every day someone would come to our houses to talk about it, and we would sign papers, signing, signing, signing. You had never seen so much paper. We were signing papers for almost a year, then we went to City Hall, and it was only weeks before we were moved. They told us it could happen at any time, but on the day that it happened, we weren’t warned. No one was told. They took us by surprise; a lot of people were at work. And one called the other, and the despair set in for everyone. Some threw themselves into the road, shouting, but we had no choice. And those who didn’t accept money or a house either, still had their house knocked down and they had to go to the streets. They had no choice.

[Have you been back since your house was knocked down?]

I go over it, the road goes over where my house was. When I go to work, I go over my house. I worked in Notre Dame. I would like to still work there, but I can’t leave my children here at those times during the week. How can I leave them here, in a community like this? You’ve seen those bars there? There’s nothing we can do about them. We just got the house, all of this was open, all of that there was open, but you couldn’t go out and leave even a flip flop there, they would take it. They broke all the glass and took everything inside. We’ve put those bars in so we can protect our children. Am I going to leave my children here, and arrive at 3am, there are children of five years old in the streets here. I can’t leave my children here. How?

They were born and brought up there, they lost all their friends. But we arrived here, and now we’re used to it. I like my house, I like where I live. I don’t like the mixture that they made. There is a lot of mess, a lot of confusion, so we have to be on our guard as much as we can. If we go out and forget and leave a door open, we’re going to come back to nothing.

I miss it, we had everything there. My children were born and raised there. Their roots were there. All my memories are there, I married there, I had my children there, I split up there. Everything of mine is there, it’s not here, I’m starting again here. Everything of mine is stil there, my job, my friends – we were separated, when I go past there I remember all of them. It was a community, it was a family. It was wonderful.

Reporter: Mariana Simões e Giulia Afiune | Edição: Mariana Simões

My journey

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