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Homeless Crack Addict Revitalizes Small Square in Downtown São Paulo

03/21/2017 - 11h09

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JULIANA GRAGNANI
FROM SÃO PAULO

A homeless man took matters into his own hands, revitalizing a small square on the corner of avenues São João and Duque de Caxias, in downtown São Paulo.

Alexandre Martinez, 41, managed to replace garbage and rubble with rows of pau-brasil, palm, banana and avocado trees. He also planted boldo, sweet potatoes, beans, peppers, chives and ornamental plants, such as snake plants.

On top of that, he added a vase he found in a dumpster as well as the square's only garbage can. Residents noticed the square's gradual changes and praised the author behind the modifications.

"I don't do this to make money or for the fame. I do it to manage my anxiety", said Martinez. "I tried to improve the square. It's how I kept myself from smoking cigarettes or from doing drugs. It keeps me busy and it makes time go by quickly", said Martinez as he revealed a crack rock in his wallet, that was wrapped in a piece of paper. "Taking care of these plants is what has kept me from using this stuff."

Martinez takes advantage of a water leakage from a nearby building to water the plants.

Gabriel Cabral/Folhapress
Alexandre Martinez
Alexandre Martinez

The seedlings are either donations or transplanted from elsewhere. Martinez also uses the seedlings to make enough money to pay R$ 25 a night (US$ 8) for a room at a hotel in the downtown region.

He also occasionally sells fruits that fall off the back of trucks to other crack users.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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