Francisca Nunes da Silva
"I work in the community that was displaced. I am still in the exact same place."
Now living in
Look, it was a community which I had lived in for 18 years. It was a community where I arrived and was welcomed, and I brought my daughter up there. Nobody messed with anyone else, everyone respected each other. I got started there, put my things there and no one messed with any of it.
People turned up there and started marking the houses, saying that City Hall would come and remove them, that it was going to be a car park. At the beginning, it was going to be a car park. It was supposed to be for the World Cup, but the World Cup went by and nothing happened. So now, we thought it was going to be for the Olympics. Apparently, there are a lot of things they haven’t done – but they come, speak to you, then disappear. Us in the community got together to form a group to fight not to have to go to Cosmos. People wanted to stay in the community, or to come here, because for us it was better to stay there, but City Hall didn’t give us a lot of choice to stay there, so we came here. They gave us this instead, and it had a fridge, bed, mattress, and everyone who came here was from there and already knew and respected each other. It’s calm here, and well-managed.
I left my shack and they were going to knock it down, only they left it there. Other people have squatted there. So you see your child, living on the streets, and that house is empty – you’ve got water, a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, all looking nice, what are you going to do? You’re going to move in, aren’t you? It makes sense. There have been lots of them, for some time now. I’ve been here for three years, so that’s gone on for three years. One gets in touch with another, and another, and those shacks are lying empty so everyone goes to live there.
I still work in the same community I was evicted from. I feel safer there than if it was on the other side of the street, where there is a bakery where I’ve been mugged several times. There are a lot of hills [favelas] nearby – it’s cool here, but you’ve got Mangueira, but also Macacos, Jacare… so if they are going to rob you, that’s what they’ll do. I have also invaded someone else’s shack in a favela, I straightened it out and lived there, even though it wasn’t mine. As they had no deadline to knock the houses down, many remained empty there. My house, when I called, was already occupied by someone. We left there and they still hadn’t sorted it out, so that’s three years of this impasse. I couldn’t spent the whole day with my children at the store. Sometimes they need to have a shower, to eat something, something like that. I would have liked to have had my own house, but life doesn’t give you so many opportunities like that.
Everyone used to sit there together, and at the end of the afternoon someone would say look, I’m going to make something, a soup, and we would spend time there playing snooker, listening to music. There was always something to do at the weekend. It’s not like that here. You get in, tired already, I don’t know who everyone is anymore. It was cool there.
Reporter: Lara Norgaard
Photographer: Lara Norgaard