Pedro Belga says: I discovered the secret to happiness. Today, I am paid to help other people. It is so weird. Guardiões do Mar turned into a huge umbrella. We are a social project incubator.
Conceição da Silva says: What improved? I got out from under the sun, the rain, the cold, humiliation and my income improved a lot. Now I have a little more money in my hands.
Marileda da Silva says: I didn't know how to sew and had no gift for it either. I now sew, I make purses, backpacks. My home, do you understand? Because I love this. I realy adore it, with all my heart.
Pedro Belga says: It is not only incubating cooperatives coming from the solidary economy administratively and personally. The focus is on understanding you need to generate jobs and income. We realized people were very interested in getting to know the Guanabara bay, in learning more. And the media's focus was that the Bay was dying, you know. So we said: "No. We will show everyone it is not dead, that it will die if we abandon it." So I focused on the Taoca Island, where there were collectors. And started working with them, practically entirely voluntarily, although the Guardiões do Mar already existed. And we then noticed they were very disorganized, so we started helping them get organized.
Conceição da Silva says: I had been a collector for more than five years, and just stayed on the streets. I started because I had been married for eight years, and our eight-year marriage ended. I didn't use to work because he never allowed me to. I got sick because I lost two kids. I didn't have any income. It was tough. Once, I was talking with a neighbor and she said: "Why don't you start selling things to the junkyard?
Marileda da Silva says: To recover, they separate things, since bottles cannot be crushed, you know. On the bottom, things have to be right. Their truck brings us here. We then wash the bottles and make big cushions. Do you know how many big cushions we make every day? We make about 50 of them. It is beautiful!
Pedro Belga says: We have no idea of the number of people that are served per day by this work. There is a mobilization and there are more than one-hundred ten associations, always with the idea in mind that together they are stronger. They encourage the association idea a lot.
Conceição da Silva says: It is a dream collector. Collecting is a dream I'm having. As time goes by, I am slowly getting the things I want.
Pedro Belga says: Until one day a collector came to me and said: "Come on, you have been in the marshes with us. Everything is dirty with this garbage that comes in with the tide. Why don't we clean the marsh up?" I said. "Let's clean the marsh up! This is madness. It is madness!" So I started studying the idea, and that is when I came up with a project called "Clean Marsh Operation." They collected the material in bags and then brought everything out of the marshes. That was when this work of preserving things by helping people's pocketbook came into being. There is no point in saying: "Look, you have to preserve the lion tamarin," when the guy is starving. But when you get this person involved and he is paid for it, he becomes your partner, your environmental agent in full, in totality.
Marileda da Silva says: I now have an income that I am pleased with.
Pedro Belga says: We realized this was a line to follow. And we were involved in putting events together. We know a lot of plastic artists who turned garbage into luxurious things, into art. So these ladies, the wives of the collectors and of the fishermen, who lived there, in the marshes next to the Guanabara Bay, they realized paper could turn into putty, and that you could shape it into a doll that could be sold as a small social gift. You increase the amount of products or residues that will no longer be tossed into the environment. You improve people's quality of life, generate work and income and, meanwhile, you give society better environmental quality and improved social quality. These people turn into new consumers, they rescue their self-esteem and, meanwhile, you can work on the family core. So, do we manage cooperatives? Yes. Yes, but we also manage lives.
Marileda da Silva says: We made one-hundred fifteen big cushions. How many bottles did we remove from our planet? Three thousand two-hundred bottles. So, that is very rewarding, very rewarding.
Pedro Belga says: Today, when I put my head on my pillow and think about the Conceições in the world, of the Mariledas in the world, about the thuchucas in the world, I am very happy. I don't think I could have done anything else.
Marileda da Silva says: Does it look good?Back to Environment and Society