Almir José da Costa

"I didn't have a choice"

Coming from
Notre Dame Notre Dame

Now living in
Ilha de Guaratiba Ilha de Guaratiba

Almir Jose da Costa, 32, builder

The municipal guards and military police treated us badly. The guards invaded my house and took my things, throwing everything into the middle of the street, as if I was nobody. They said, let’s go, we don’t have much time to waste. I left Recreio after living there for 15 years. What happened was those City Hall works, and they marked out just those houses that were at the front. My house, which was at the back, hadn’t been marked out. Then one day, a Wednesday, City Hall people arrived with municipal guards and military police, and they gave people 20 minutes, half an hour, to get their things out of their houses, and throw everything into a removals truck. I didn’t have time to get everyting out of my house. I didn’t know they were going to take my house out.

So they arrived, the municipal guards, to my house, my father’s house, and they gave us at the most 20 minutes to get our stuff out. It wasn’t enough time to take the stuff out, just some of the simplest things, the smaller things it was possible to grab. What happened was I lost everything, everything that was in my wardrobe stayed there. The bulldozer knocked it all down. My case is going through the justice system still, but it’s going to take time, maybe 10 or 15 years. I went to City Hall to chase it up, and they treated me very badly. R$11,700 was what I received from them, when my house in Recreio had six rooms in front and seven at the back. It had proper flooring, a terrace, everything was well made. The girl who was working at City Hall said why didn’t you take a house over there in Campo Grande? And she showed me the model of it. But I had already decided not to go as I had been there, and it was total chaos. There were a lot of people from all different favelas, and it was an area dominated by a militia boss, the militia runs things, so I didn’t want to go there.

With the little I had, I made an effort and decided to live on rent, but after three years it became really difficult. Nowadays, I have my own house, but when they decided to pay me 11,000, it was unfair, and I didn’t have any choice. Either I had to go without, or take the house I didn’t want. I received just the 11,000. My life here now is good, more or less. The life in Recreio, I miss the friends I was close to, as I had lived there for more than 15 years. It was close to my work, and here I had to start again from zero.

Reporter: Lara Norgaard, Matheus Wenna

Photographer: Lara Norgaard

My journey

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