Sandra e Giselle Rodrigues da Silva

"You don’t have freedom. How can that mean you have a house?"


Coming from
estrada da curicica, 226, jacarepaguá estrada da curicica, 226, jacarepaguá

Now living in
rua adauto botelho, colônia rua adauto botelho, colônia

Sandra Rodrigues da Silva, 47, housewife. Ah, what happened? They were saying it for a while, but not that it was for the BRT [bus rapid transit] but for the blue line subway that was going to go through there. So since then, they didn’t build it… When it started, that they were going to have the Olympics here, that’s when they started to come here and look at the houses, measure things and start with that whole circus. Because that’s what it is, a circus, nothing more!

Because it’s like this, they took us out of one place, and what they gave us in compensation was not enough to buy another house. And it varied from between 60 to 70 thousand. And there, my house had a garden, it was a much bigger house than this one.

But they started talking and they gave me the choice. Or better to say, there was no choice. Because they gave you a value that was too low to buy a house, that you would have to live on rent for the rest of your life, that you couldn’t have your own house, there was no real choice. You were practically obliged to swap one key for another. That’s the truth.

And when they held their meetings, they promised that we would get a gas supply for people on low incomes. Because where we used to live, it was all for people on low incomes, electricity for low income people… but it wasn’t really like that. Nothing here is for people on low incomes, not even the electricity. I’ve received an electricity bill for 400 reals.

So your expenses have gone up a lot. And there are people here who don’t even have enough to eat, let alone pay their debts.

She is a teacher. She applied for a civil service course but she can’t do it, because you can’t have a bad credit rating. So we went and found out she had a bad credit rating. She owes Banco do Brasil. What does she owe? Nothing, we haven’t bought anything! Nothing was done with us, everything was between City Hall and Banco do Brasil. And she started getting emails, we are receiving letters all the time charging us, sasying that we owe 75,000 to the Banco do Brasil. How can it be that we owe something? We just exchanged one key for the other, we don’t owe anything.

[Can you tell me your name and age?]

Gisele Rodrigues da Silva, 22, teacher. They pay, then they wait for four or five months, until your name comes off the credit list, then they let four or five months build up again to see if you will pay.

[This went on for a year, didn’t it?]

It was for about a year, and they started calling us from week to week to meetings. Everything was in the deputy mayor’s office. One week, the meeting was for us to finish signing our contracts. It was all that bureaucracy, until they came to tell us that we had just a week to help ourselves.

[Did you end up seeing your house get demolished?]

I only saw it afterwards, it was so sad, we cried and everything, because we had history there, a life, you know? She was born there, you know? I mean, it was really sad. Even now, when I pass it, I miss it so much. It was my little corner. I don’t like it here, I liked my little corner.

However you look at it, it was a house, there was a certain independence. It wasn’t an apartment. There, we used to get together at the main gate with our neighbours, we would drink, drink soft drinks… the children used to ride their bikes. That was what our lives were like.

Things that we don’t have here. Here, we either stay locked in inside, because there are a lot of stairs to climb, I can’t handle it, or you stay locked inside the house. So you, I mean, you go out there, and there are a lot of people you don’t know, you don’t have any intimacy with them. And you hear one thing or another, it’s not your world.

It is a bit isolated here, we don’t have public transport. There we had the Rafael de Paula Souza Hospital which had a family clinic. So even though there was a lot of demand, they would see people from around the community, here we don’t have that.

I stopped my treatment for hypertension. I have chronic hypertension, I take 11 different kinds of medication per day. I stopped my treatment because I left that place.

And they say: “oh, you’re going to have to wait.” They couldn’t see us anymore because we weren’t from that region anymore. I am still taking medication for depression, because I really did get depressed when I came here. I had friend there, they really were friends. Not aquaintances, people you know, neighbours… They were friends I could count on. I mean, I had three heart attacks. I could count on them, if I shouted they would run to me and help.

She arrived late from university, but I wasn’t worried, because everyone had known her since she was a child, they saw her when she was still in my belly, they saw her when she was born, so they respected her. I have to stay here when she is delayed, I have to stay here. Because the buses take a long time to come.

From there, she used to take a bus which went straight to the house. But from here, she has to take two. So I have to keep calling her. You have to keep watch, as there are strange people around. My grandfather still turns up here to check on me.

You know those songs by Amado Batista? Those really sad songs. Every Sunday morning he would put those really sad songs on at top volume. We used to wake up with him playing Amado Batista, there in his little house. We used to wake up, and the window of my bedroom went right onto the corridor, right in front of his house. We woke up with this music, and here, poor thing, he lives here on the first floor, but he can’t listen to it, people complain about everything!

I went to do something here in the house, it was a Saturday during the day, it was 4 or 5pm, and the neighbour below started banging the broomstick on the roof for us to hear. What I mean is, you have a house? You don’t have a house. You don’t have freedom. How can that mean you have a house?


Reporter: Jessica Mota

Photographer: Jessica Mota

My journey


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