Photo of Tiaõ (Sebastiao Carlos dos Santos)

Tiaõ (Sebastiao Carlos dos Santos)

Tiaõ is the young, charismatic President of ACAMJG (the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho), a co-operative to improve the lives of his fellow catadores. Inspired by the political texts he found in the waste, Tiaõ had to convince his co-workers that organizing could make a difference. Tiaõ has been picking since he was 11 years old. What’s Tiaõ up to now?

Tiaõ: is still working at ACAMJG—closing deals with companies to handle their recycling and organizing ACAMJG to be independent of Gramacho. As Gramacho is still closing in 2012, he is fighting to get everyone from co-ops employed but it is difficult.

Even though most of the first monies raised were used to maintain the association and buy things they needed such as a truck, phone and computer, some of the money from the auction was essential for him and his family who now have a new house that they have been refurbishing. Tiaõ and his wife are trying for more children as they want a big family, telling us that if he doesn’t get a son by the end of 2011, he’ll adopt one! Also, after seeing the film Tiaõ's daughter is now determined to be an artist!

Tiaõ believes that the main benefit wasn’t just the money but the film itself, which mobilized a lot of people towards their cause and acts as a huge awareness campaign. He feels people who see the film now see the Catadores differently helping to shed some of the stigma associated with them and make people more sensitive to their cause. He expects this to happen in a much larger scale in January when the film is released in Brasil. The Federal Government will actually be using the film as a PR campaign to raise awareness and get people to recycle more, or rather engage in selective collection. Viewings in all states are being organized.

There have been a lot of positive developments with ACAMJG since the film was completed. Tiaõ confirms ACAMJG and other similar catador organizations got a BNDES contract to collect rubbish during the World Cup 2014, which will act as a trial for future expansion of similar schemes in the main cities. Moreover, alongside other State’s organizations, ACAMJG has also secured government contracts under the law of ‘National Policy on Residues’ so that they service new recycling plants. Only in Rio ACAMJG is servicing all 3 new UNISA recycling plants. Tiaõ’s persistent campaigning went from focusing on the southern area of Rio (Baixada) to linking with national organizations for a common front and campaigning strategy. They have also agreed a partnership with Coca-Cola who is financing the new recycling plants and also funding more trucks for ACAMJG. This will be kicking off next year and is going to boost production and employment.

Amazed and happy at how much his life has improved, Tiaõ claims to “feel like Cinderella, living some kind of unbelievable fairy-tale!” Tiaõ now feels like he wants to give something back, “Just as Vik helped me and my friends, it is now time for us to do the same for others and pass on the cycle of goodness.”

Photo of Zumbi (Jose Carlos da Silva Bala Lopes)

Zumbi (Jose Carlos da Silva Bala Lopes)

Zumbi is the resident intellectual. When he sees a book, he doesn’t see just recycling paper. He has kept every book he’s ever found on the landfill, and has started a community lending library in his shack. He is on the Board of ACAMJG, the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho. He has been working at Jardim Gramacho since he was nine years old. What’s Zumbi up to now?

Zumbi: still works at Jardim Gramacho and ACAMJG with Tiaõ but also at the Co-op. With the money raised he and Tiaõ built a library at ACAMJG which is now up and running with more than 7000 books, an IT room with computers and a learning centre. This is used by Catadores and their children. They are also using it for courses, from IT to recycling such as environmental management courses, co-op management courses, etc. With all the book donations they are getting, they have started donating educational books to children directly.

Photo of Suelem (Suelem Pereira Dias)

Suelem (Suelem Pereira Dias)

Suelem has been working in the garbage since she was seven; now she’s 18 with two kids and another on the way. She’s proud of her work, because she’s not a prostitute or involved in the drug traffic, but she’d love to be taking care of children, or even be able to stay home with her own. What’s Suelem up to now?

Suelem: After the film, she stopped working at Gramacho when she met someone and got married. She now has another son and bought a new house. She has no plans to return to Jardim Gramacho again.

Photo of Isis (Isis Rodrigues Garros)

Isis (Isis Rodrigues Garros)

Isis loves fashion and hates picking garbage. When she falls apart she reveals the tragedy that brought her to the dump. What’s Isis up to now?

Isis: After the film she left Jardim Gramacho and eventually started working with a Jewelry designer called Mana Bernardes—who uses recycled jewelry. The money donated to her individually helped her survive while she was looking for a new job, to buy a new bed, some clothes and she also gave some money to her mother.

She met a really nice man who is very supportive and they were recently married. She now lives with her new husband and her stepson and works at Meyer supermarket. She is very happy and has never thought about going back to Gramacho.

Photo of Irma (Leide Laurentina da Silva)

Irma (Leide Laurentina da Silva)

Irma is the resident chef cooking up a plat du jour from the freshest ingredients she can find at Jardim Gramacho. What’s Irma up to now?

Irma: After the film she got out of Jardim Gramacho and set up a little restaurant with juices and food to sell in her neighborhood, Soon after she met a young man, 20 years her junior, whom she was with for a while. Most recently we have learnt that she has returned to Gramacho to cook for the catadores. She just loves being there and is well liked by the others.

Photo of Valter (Valter dos Santos)

Valter (Valter dos Santos)

Valter, the landfill’s elder statesmen, is a recycling guru and resident bard who delights in rhymes and morals.

Photo of Magna (Magna de Fran¨a Santos)

Magna (Magna de França Santos)

Magna fell on hard times when her husband lost his job. Her fellow bus passengers may turn their noses up at her, but she tells them at least she’s not turning tricks on Copacabana. What’s Magna up to now?

Magna: After the film she didn’t go back to Jardim Gramacho and started working at a pharmacy. With the money from her portrait she moved out of Gramacho and bought a house, it also helped her buy a van that she uses to work. Her divorce finally went through and she tells us that her personal life and 11-year old son are doing great, though unfortunately her professional life is still a bit tough. Because of the film, Magna and Isis have now become best friends.