Wagner Moura grew up in a rural area in northeastern Brazil. His childhood was average - he played with his friends, looked after his younger sister, and laughed when a goat walked into his classroom at school. If anything was wrong, he didn’t notice.
Until he did. Eventually, he began to question why some people had to work for food or shelter, with no payment involved. And why certain young girls were sent to homes to do all the domestic work for free.
He even reconsidered his own family’s situation.
Wagner fondly remembers hanging out at his uncle’s house as a kid. He owned a big farm and, like many landowners there, he hired seasonal workers to help with the harvest for a few months each year. They had a place to sleep and a small plot of land where they could grow their own food.
“They were cool. They seemed happy. They never played the victim,” Wagner said. “But it wasn’t okay.”
As soon as the season ended, the seasonal workers were forced to leave. They didn’t have a home. They didn’t have any money.
“As a kid, I wasn’t equipped to understand,” he observed. “There was something in me that was like, this is not right. But the environment around me, all the adults - it was never an issue for them. It was all normal.”
As he grew older, he slowly put together the pieces and began to understand what was really going on. The phenomenon had a name: slave labour, forced labour, child labour.