The old factory of Central Milk Cooperative of Manufacturers (CCPL), located in the neighborhood of Benfica, Rio de Janeiro’s north district, which became home to 1,200 poor families in 2002, has formed an organization to improve the living conditions of the residents.
In September 2002, the factory, which has six buildings each with three floors was taken over by families who had no money to pay rent, feared violence from drug dealers or simply wanted to improve their living conditions.
Although the factory provided a place to live, the families face serious problems such as lack of access to water, sewage services, electricity, and solid waste disposal services. The terrible condition of the facilities affects the life of the people who live here. Many boys and girls play bare foot ignoring the garbage on the streets and the black water.
Because of these problems, the families have come together to organize the Central Milk Cooperative of Manufacturers (CCPL) in Action, headed by six members. “In the old times this was a cowshed. We found the factory robbed, without doors, windows or electricity wires, and the elevators had disappeared. The floors and walls were the only things remaining”, remembers Roberto Moura, one of the leaders of who lives in the old factory.
Thanks to their collective action, the community now has a bakery, small grocery stores, a construction material store, a farm, two bars and two indoor soccer fields. The community is also constructing a carpenter shop, and a drawing and painting workshop.
“Our intention is to provide sports and services to the people of the community because since we moved to this factory, no authority has come to ask us about our needs”, said Mauro Fauria, one of the six members of the group CCPL in Action.
“Here it is easy to catch a disease. My sons already had dengue and skin infections because they play in dirty places. We have no guarantee this situation is going to change. The only thing we have left is to trust in God’s will”, asserted with affliction, Rose Garcia who has lived ten months in the community.
The community faces the problem of draining the water during the rainy season because there are no pipes. A half hour storm is enough to flood the corridors and houses. The stagnant water attracts mosquitoes causing disease. “My family cannot sleep peacefully because there are too many mosquitoes that bite us during the night. We have to sleep with the fan on but even this does not prevent them from biting us” said Simone da Mata, 35 years old, mother of six sons.