Former ‘Crackland’ Addict Turns Sao Paulo Trash Into Livelihood | 7/4/2017 | Staff
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Fabiana Silva called the streets of São Paulo home for 16 years as one of hundreds of people trapped in cracolândia, the open-air drug markets in South America’s biggest city.

Now the street has become a livelihood for Silva, who has kicked an addiction to crack cocaine and moved into an informal two-story dwelling in a nearby slum.

Silva - Cart - Hand - São - Paulo

Silva, 38, pulls her bright purple cart by hand through the São Paulo, piling it high with more than 400 kg (800 lbs) of recyclables picked from refuse to earn roughly 100 reais ($32) per day – the only money she earns to support three children.

“The street today puts food on my table,” she said.

Silva - Army - Pickers - Streets - São

Silva is one of a small army of trash pickers who comb the streets of São Paulo, home to 20 million, for materials missed by the city’s official recycling trucks.

“The recycling trucks can’t keep up,” she said. “Now imagine how much people like me have cleaned up. We’ve saved millions of trees because a tonne of recycled cardboard saves 22 trees from being cut down.”

Silva - Home - Outskirts - Metropolis - Age

Silva ran away from her home in the outskirts of the metropolis at age 7 to flee an abusive stepfather, ending up in a corner of the city center where dealers sell openly to addicts living on the street.

That “crackland” in the shadow of a historic train station converted into a prestigious concert hall is now subject to a government cleanup, the latest in a series of failed attempts to ease the city’s crack epidemic in recent years.

Silva - Years - Drug - Market - ****

Silva described her years in the drug market as “****.”

She spent four stints in the juvenile justice system before she was arrested and discovered she was pregnant with her first child, now 17 years...
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