The River:

At the edge of life

The story of such people who are always being out of politics and economic speculations of the Ceara River, of which people survive with whatever is granted to them.

Photo Reportage: Emrah Kartal / Agence Le Journal

Fortaleza — Brazil 2015


The River — At the edge of life is a photo-story, which ran two years in one of the Northeastern Brazilian capital, Fortaleza. Fortaleza is one of most dangerous but at the same time one of the most beautiful and historical cities either in Brazil and the world as a whole. As almost like the same way as emerging economy of Brazil, Fortaleza city has also experienced a rapidly growing level of economy. After a long period of high consuming level in automotive and housing marketplace, nationwide political and economic crisis experienced in Brazil has shaken this ex-emerging capital.

Fishermen return from sea. Accompined buy children, going to sell fish. Behind of Pirambu neighbourhood, there are new, classy buildings rising. Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015

The River, is named after the Caera River, which gives its name to the State of Ceara, and passes through the city of Fortaleza. A delta exists at the last point of this long Ceara River, where the river falls down to the Atlantic Ocean. Fortaleza city was settled down at the “mouth” of the Ceara River. Since then the city has grown and the social habitat around the river stayed out the original settlement point where it used to be. Now, the river is hosting cheap beaches for the working class, fishermen, as well a bridge and a big and famous favela, named as Pirambu…

A brazilian type graffiti name called “pichação” being written in Pirambu. Pichação is prohibitted in Brazil, because of using public areas and buildings of secret groups’ marks, symbols and signs. Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015

The story of the people of the Ceara River, the Pirambu community, in Brazil. The story of such people who are always being out of politics and economic speculations of the Ceara River, of which people survive with whatever is granted to them.

Street view in Pirambu, Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015
Ceara River Beach. Community people and the people who live around the River choose that beach, out of Fortaleza’s famous turistic ones. Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015

‘Crime,

conflicts of

drug-trafficking

and unemployment drive them to desperation about future…’


Governors from the Workers’ Party established some social and economic funds for housing and new accommodation areas at the seaside, and connected the settlement with a highway to the large part of the city. But the community here is still far away from the city center in terms of economic and social life. Pirambu, like the other favelas in the country, is very dangerous; and a high level of unemployment and/or cheap employment is observed.

A crack user in Pirambu. He uses only crack because it’s very cheap very easy to find. He tells that” You can tale my picture, because i’m not a trafficer, I’m just an addicted and an user. Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015

While it was one of the emerging marketplaces in Brazil, Pirambu, today, during the crisis period in Brazil, is looking for changes in Fortaleza city. People of Pirambu are still indigent. Crime, conflicts of drug-trafficking and unemployment drive them to desperation about future. Every one of five people living in community consumes crack, which is a very cheap and strong addictive chemical drug. Prostitution is very common, especially among crack users.

A crack user in Pirambu. As well as being of use of the crack is very common, users like to isolate them anywhere in neighbourhood. Family guys who doesn’t like to spell his name like him, go to seaside, park or old fish market to smoke crack. Fortaleza, BRAZIL August 2015

Crack is a cocaine-based, strong addictive drug. Because it is cheaper than cocaine, results of addiction also cause social destruction on addict’s life. It is observed that psychological damages of drug lead to isolation from daily life. Crack users, who have high addiction level, rarely live with their families, and mostly, are unemployed. In Pirambu, crack users have a limited social network in spite of living in a community and being recognized by almost all neighbors. They avoid smoking crack at streets, public areas during the daytime. Pirambu is a sea-coasted favela on the Leste Oeste Avenue nearby the Leste Beach. Fishermen are traditional part of the community. Their boats are called “Jangada”, which can be seen at all Northeastern coasts of Brazil. Fishermen of Pirambu are very respected people of the community. Their reputation comes from their disciplined worker habits.

A fisherman family in Pirambu. 12 people living in a small house. Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015

The “seamen” work properly in hard conditions, they respect their fishermen traditions and they do not use drugs. They have a marketplace on the Leste Oeste Avenue. Fish marketplace becomes a dark and secret place at nights. Crack users, who become a homeless because of drug addiction, sleep at this fish marketplace. Neguinha has been a crack user for a few years. She is 25 years old and pregnant for 5 months to her second child. She had her first child under crack addiction and gave birth to the baby with lots of disease. Now she is prostituting for crack. She does not know who the father of her baby is. Her neighbors are taking care for her first child. She has problems but is healthy for now. It seems that Neguinha is neither worried about her baby, nor about her life … She says that she used to be a very beautiful girl and was known well all around the community. She considers her addiction as a matter of “dignity”. She says that she preferred using drug in order not to loose her dignity in her family. Now it can be seen that, maybe she did not lost her “dignity”, but her eyes stay in emptiness; such emptiness in which there is nothing without darkness.

Neguinha has been a crack user for a few years. She is 25 years old and pregnant for 5 months to her second child. She had her first child under crack addiction and gave birth to the baby with lots of disease.

A crack smoker in Pirambu, João kindly opens his house. He has not a family but his dog. He has only fellows who are also crack addicts. In his house, quite there is nothing. Inner room of his house, there is an altar made by family pictures and popular saint icons. Altar is a part of Northeastern Brazilian house tradition. According to tradition, the catholic altar protects family members and gives wealthy future. He does not smoke in that altar room.

From house of a fisherman in Pirambu. Fortaleza, BRAZIL 2015

With or without a private, a home, Pirambu is a home to these people of the River. Addicts, who are well known by old neighbors, sleep at corners. They all are well notable for their beautiful, wealthy, young, worker, and struggler past. People of Pirambu accept their community with these people; with smokers, addicts, and prostitutes… They are part of this community and proper life of proper people. They are parents of anyone within the community. Whenever people look at these crack users, they understand once again how they are able to survive day by day. They grasp once again how difficult the life is in Pirambu and get hope for the day after.


Photo Reportage: Emrah Kartal / Agence Le Journal

Fortaleza — Brazil 2015

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