Photos: Former crack addict turns a new leaf as scrap dealer in São Paulo

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST 8 Photos
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Fabiana da Silva, 38, called the streets of São Paulo home for 16 years as one among hundreds trapped in cracolândia, the open-air drug markets in South America’s biggest city. Now the street has become a livelihood for Silva, who lugs her cart through the streets in search of reusables. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

Fabiana da Silva, 38, called the streets of São Paulo home for 16 years as one among hundreds trapped in cracolândia, the open-air drug markets in South America’s biggest city. Now the street has become a livelihood for Silva, who lugs her cart through the streets in search of reusables. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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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. Describing her years in the drug market as ‘hell’, she had four stints in the juvenile justice system before being arrested and discovering she was pregnant with her first child, now 17 years old. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

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. Describing her years in the drug market as ‘hell’, she had four stints in the juvenile justice system before being arrested and discovering she was pregnant with her first child, now 17 years old. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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‘It took so much strength for me to leave that life,’ she said. ‘But along came my kids, and I just had to get out.’ Silva found work as an assistant social worker tending to addicts, a job now requiring a high school diploma, before she turned to recycling. She 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. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

‘It took so much strength for me to leave that life,’ she said. ‘But along came my kids, and I just had to get out.’ Silva found work as an assistant social worker tending to addicts, a job now requiring a high school diploma, before she turned to recycling. She 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. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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Silva said her children, including an eight and a 14-year-old, were her motivation for quitting drugs after floating through halfway houses. ‘To break addiction, you have to really want out,’ she said. ‘It’s hard when a person is hooked. That’s all the body wants.’ Once dependent on the city’s streets for her daily dose of crack cocaine, ‘The street today puts food on my table,’ she said. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

Silva said her children, including an eight and a 14-year-old, were her motivation for quitting drugs after floating through halfway houses. ‘To break addiction, you have to really want out,’ she said. ‘It’s hard when a person is hooked. That’s all the body wants.’ Once dependent on the city’s streets for her daily dose of crack cocaine, ‘The street today puts food on my table,’ she said. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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Silva pulls her bright purple cart by hand through São Paulo, piling it high with more than 400 kg of recyclables picked from refuse to earn roughly 100 reais ($32) per day - the only money she earns to support her three children. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

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

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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The ‘crackland’ which Silva once called home 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 attempts to ease the city’s crack epidemic in recent years. Mayor João Doria’s harder stance against the city’s eight cracklands has only displaced inhabitants to nearby blocks. Silva herself now lives in an informal two-story dwelling in a nearby slum. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

The ‘crackland’ which Silva once called home 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 attempts to ease the city’s crack epidemic in recent years. Mayor João Doria’s harder stance against the city’s eight cracklands has only displaced inhabitants to nearby blocks. Silva herself now lives in an informal two-story dwelling in a nearby slum. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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Fabiana da Silva has her hair and nails done before her high school graduation ceremony in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Silva said draconian measures like forcing addicts into clinics would not work, adding that only time and voluntary treatment can help. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

Fabiana da Silva has her hair and nails done before her high school graduation ceremony in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Silva said draconian measures like forcing addicts into clinics would not work, adding that only time and voluntary treatment can help. (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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Having overcome her own addiction, Silva’s aspirations do not end on the street. She recently graduated from middle school and will start high school this month. She plans to go to university and become a veterinarian. ‘I was a street girl,’ she said, adding, ‘It’s a great achievement for me. It means so much.’ (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

Having overcome her own addiction, Silva’s aspirations do not end on the street. She recently graduated from middle school and will start high school this month. She plans to go to university and become a veterinarian. ‘I was a street girl,’ she said, adding, ‘It’s a great achievement for me. It means so much.’ (Nacho Doce / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON AUG 04, 2017 01:37 PM IST
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