Monday, 29 November 2010
24 hours later Celia's camp is completely trashed. The banner is gone, window smashed, big rock on the floor inside. No sign of anyone.
Over the road we find Landia, Preto and Vinicius. The Gameleira tree has a new fence around it to stop homeless people from living there. Of course there are already holes in the fence so we have a long chat sitting under the tree.
We have a notebook including pictures of everyone who's ever been in the project. Over the years it's quite a lot of people. We want to record people's memories, to find out what's happened, collect stories etc.
It turns out that Vinicius (who we met for the first time yesterday) was the boyfriend of Sandra who was one of the original kids we met in 1995. A year or so ago Sandra was killed in a car accident (Vinicius was in the same crash and has a big scar on his right thigh, uses a crutch). In 1995 Sandra was with an athletic boy called Walter and we have fantastic pictures of them and their baby, of Walter being acrobatic, cleaning his house and so on. But he too was killed in a car crash, perhaps in 2000. Then Sandra and Vinicius became a couple and they were together 6 years. Their baby was also in the accident - apparantly it flew through the air and was saved because it landed on a woman. It's now living with Sandra's sister. These tragedies just go round and round. Preto and Landia are also tearful about not just Sandra and Walter, but also Lindomar, Otacilio, Edna, Edna's son Jonathon. It's generally cars and AIDS that are the killers.
We collect the first exposed films and re-load.
Saturday - after a long period of inactivity, the project got back underway and the first step is always to find the kids. You never know where they will be, if they are around at all. They could be in prison, might have gone to another city, perhaps living in a favela or they may even be dead. But since 1997 they have always gravitated towards Gameleira district and specifically a huge gameleira tree next to a busy junction. At one time they had a 'house' under the tree, long since bulldozed by the authorities who have also been busy removing typical street kids habitats, completely filling the shady, dry underneath of road and rail bridges with rubble.
We drive around and find Celia's latest 'camp' (see above) outside an empty furniture store, just across the road from the tree. A salvaged advertising banner offers protection from rain and sun; the usual detritus of street living is strewn around, there are stones to sit on, washing hangs from railings. Piriquito (her partner) is in prison and she's there with his brother Alexandre and Weber. She has a kind of job doing embroidery. They are happy to see us and want cameras. over the next couple of hours we find Conchinia and Vinicius asleep in a person sized hollow under a footbridge, then Bilu who looks really well. He takes us to find Sandro and this is a shock. he's slumped back on a broken plastic chair, head wedged against the wall and a whiny fuzzbox of a transistor radio. He's totally out of it, can hardly raise his voice, almost impossible to understand him. Puffed eyes, swollen, cracked lips; his left arm paralysed from a recent stab wound, filthy. At least the people around there seem to look after him a little bit - two elderly ladies in a nearby bar obviously like him, despite all the trouble he must have caused. They say he's been around for 20 years, they've known him since he was a little boy.
Finally, after more driving around, we see Licão. He's with Patricia again (the last we knew they were apart) and she's several months pregnant. They are very happy. Licão has built a house under a mango tree, full of fruit, there are even christmas decorations! There's even a sign saying "No entry without Licão's invitation". Haidi is living nearby with a new man. There are several people we've never met too, including a sister of Elisangela.
By the end of the day we've distributed several cameras and we will be back tomorrow.