8 Jun 2011
The Transformation of Chocolatão

After many years of dedicated work, the community from the Chocolatão slum in Porto Alegre have new homes and for many its brought new livelihoods and opportunities. May 13 2011 marked the inauguration of the new Chocolatão, home to around 200 families or 800 people.

Res idencial Nova Chocolatão was opened by Prefeito Jose Fortunati (left) and the event included the project’s many partners, including Mario Porto Fonseca of Solucoes Usimanas, lead partner in the building of the community’s new recycling facility. Cities Programme manager, Elizabeth Ryan had the privilege of participating in the event and says the time with the community during this moment of great change was incredibly moving, the results a credit to the collective will of many to bring dignity to the lives of the people of Chocolatão. Community leader, Fernanda (left) melted the crowd with her empassioned speech at the inauguration ceremony. She will manage Nova Chocolatão’s beautiful new childcare facility.

Vania Goncalves de Souva from the Prefeitura de Porto Alegre has worked with the community for four years and is committed to continuing this work. Vania is pictured (left) on the last day of Vila Chocolatão with Mario, who has lived at Chocolatão for thirty years. She says “resettlement or settlement is an important, a fundamental big step towards the emancipation of the community …the new house is important because it improves the living conditions. But the point is… to continue capacitating, empowering the community to bring change into their lives to be able to cope with the rights and duties in the new life. We know, even after the resettlement we have to continue working with the community to seek together the true social inclusion”. Vania is currently working with researchers from the Cities Programme and Australian University, RMIT to help map the history of the project and develop a model for application in other settings.

For some the improvement has been immediate. Bete – pictured below in front of her shop in Vila Chocolatão and then receiving the keys to her new shop from Prefeito Fortunati – is very pleased with the change in her life. She recently reported delight at the beauty of rain falling on the window of her new shop – a first time experience.

     

Pictured below is long time Chocolatao resident who now has a wheelchair accessible house and sealed roads at Nova Chocolatão. He is also pictured with Cezar Bussato, Secretary of Political Coordination and Local Governance, Prefeitura de Porto Alegre and project champion. Cezar says Chocolatao’s inclusive and consultative model will now be applied to other communities the City is working with. This includes focusing on health, employment and training as well as housing.

      

The new recycling centre at Nova Chocolatão is a major source of employment for the community who were traditionally catadores, or street pickers. The City has changed its garbage collection and disposal practices so that refuse is delivered to the workers at Chocolatão instead of them collecting from the streets and bringing home the rubbish to sort, a major health and safety risk which resulted in tragic fire a number of years ago. All facilities will be managed and operated by Chocolatão community members.

A network, ‘Vila Chocolatão Sustainability Network’ was an important governing collaborative force in the years of preparation to move. It included members of health, education and law services, the Chocolatao community and the private sector. Teresa, another community leader is pictured below with friend Mario and Marcio Milleto Mostardeiro, from the City of Porto Alegre in the old community space that was used for network meetings when it was wet (they were otherwise in the adjacent park) and childcare. Teresa is also pictured in her new home at Nova Chocolatão with husband and adopted son on the day of the inauguration.

The relocation has not been without its challenges. A number of families moved to Vila Chocolatao after the project’s census date and a range of alternative accommodation was required to be negotiated for these people.

 

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