Nilda Santos da Silva, 51, is a single mother of five children. For 13 years she has lived in a small house with two rooms—a kitchen and bedroom—in Jardim Colombo on the west side of São Paulo.
She often dreamed of having a comfortable home for her children, but knew it was impossible since she earns less than minimum wage as a day laborer. “It’s a struggle to make ends meet, even more alone. When you have work, we do not refuse at all,” explains Santos da Silva.
Jardim Colombo is part of the Paraisópolis complex, named in 2010 by the census of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) as the largest favela in São Paulo, with a total of 800 thousand square meters, equivalent to 97 football fields.
Located in one of the richest regions of the city of São Paulo, the neighborhood is densely populated and suffers from lack of urbanization, sanitation, investment in improvements and job creation.
Surprise in good time
This year, Santos da Silva’s story has a happy ending with an initiative of the Adventist Church. Through the Recolta, a social fundraising project to carry out action in favor of vulnerable families, the whole house was renovated. “It was something I did not expect. A surprise for all of us,” she exclaims.
In 2018, she was contacted by architect Ester Carro, who is active in the community and became responsible for the renovation of the house. “We evaluated the space and with the budget we had, we worked to deliver the best for this family. To open and brighten the room, a window was added; we built a spiral staircase leading to the room, the ceiling was covered, and the walls plastered and painted. But the place that particularly had a significant change was the bathroom, ” he shares.