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São Roberto

In the state of Maranhão.
Text written by Rosilene Nava Lillman
My home town - where I grew up.
São Roberto is a small village in the north of Brazil that was declared a city in 1997. I was born there in 1971 and lived there until 1990 when I moved to São Paulo, so I guess I most of my deep roots there still.

When I still lived in São Roberto, there was no electricity, no tap water and the roads where mostly just packed dirt that was flushed away every once in a while when hard rains passed. Nowadays things have changed dramatically, but the city has still quite some way to go before it is up to normal 21st century standards. My last few years there I actually got to see some television, and today some roads even have asphalt...
A farmer working in the extreme heat.
In the picture below you can see the house where i grew up with my parents and 9 brothers and sisters. My father made the bricks and roofing tile to the house himself by forming them from clay and letting them dry close to fire and in the sun.
The house where I grew up!
Farmers with beans and cows.
The main occupation is São Roberto is agriculture. Most people grow their own food. Not many peolpe have much money, but theay are happy anyway.

The image above shows a young boy peeling beans under the burning sun. Although it is so hot that it is almost impossible to stay out in the sun for more than a short moment, he is happy and sings as he works.

The man standing by the rice sacks in the picture below started working at 7 o'clock in the morning and is now finishing up for the day at 16 hours. It has been a hot day and he is exhausted. He grows rice and corn.

The picture below to the right shows how rice is piled up after the harvest. By selling off some of the harvest, he might be able to buy some clothes, medecines and other necessary stuff.
A tired farmer after a long day of hard work with his corn and rice.
Ways of transportation.
Most houses are built using clay and water on a wooden structure, which is a very inexpesive way of setting up a home. When building a new house people from around gather up to help with the work. Normally, the proud house owner offers some food and stronger beverages, preferrably after the house is ready to avoid any accidents.
Building a house.
The woman in the picture has walked a long way to fetch water in able to wash her clothes. Although many houses in São Roberto today have water pipes installed, inhabitants of most houses a bit on the side of the centre still have to get their water in buckets - often by walking long distances. I did this almost every day when I was a child, which is something I would not recommend...

Much work to get some water...

Tap water is easier...
This old woman has walked over 15 minutes to get her two buckets of clean water. She is a good friend of mine and has 24 children!

In Brazil there is a saying; "They do not have any television at home"... (so they have time over for other things...)
One of my friends have a lake where they culture fish. What they do not eat for themselves they sell to the rest of the city.
Fishing in a nearby lake.
Chicken is among the most common food. There are chickens, hens and roosters running around all over the place. When you want to catch on for dinner you just go outside the house and start running after them. :) It is also common, especially for children, to use a slingshot in order to make the hunt a bit easier.

The snake inte picture below was found inside the kitchen of my brother's house. It is a quite dangerous snake, and a bite from his sharp teeth could leave you very sick.

The result of a rooster hunt. :)
Dangerous snakes are appear from time to time...
On Sundays, many people go to a nearby river for a relaxing barbeque, some beers and lots of talking.
Taking a bath in the nearby river.
Birthdays are fun in São Roberto. When some kid has a birthday party friends from the whole street come turning the place to a chaos for a while. It's not common with presents though, as there are not so much to buy and people do not ususally have that much money.
There are many children in São Roberto.
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