If you ask anyone to name two cities in Brasil they know, they would say Rio and if you’re lucky they might also say Sao Paulo. But not many would know the city of Recife, unless they have been there or know someone who has. Well that beautiful city on the northeastern coast of the Atlantic shoreline is where my roots lie.
I was born into the chaotic life of the slums, if you have experienced that lifestyle you would easily say that each day was uncertain. My every decision had to be taken with a risk, precise judgment, and a courageous spirit. I am pointing these aspects out because there are so many others out there that are still living under these circumstances. They have to be courageous and take risks in the presence of great adversity everyday. For those that have not experienced this lifestyle let me lay out what a good day would be like.
As the day began, I’d prepare myself to go with my mom, knocking house to house begging for food, left over change, and clothes. It was very rare that my dad would be bringing anything for the good of the home, due to his alcoholism. That left my mom and I to fend for ourselves. Being a young, innocent looking female gave my family hope of getting the help we needed to feed the family. Later in the day I would roam the streets trying to follow my two brothers and cousins wherever they would go, may it be crabbing in the river, passing time with marbles or spinning tops off the strings, until late at night when they would play futebol. But before bed my mom and I would usually make a last trip to the restaurant on the corner before it closed to receive their scraps from the day. I will let your imagination roam as to what could have happened on a bad day because it probably happened.
I was living this life for the first 7 years of my life, until I was taken away by the state and placed in an orphanage of only girls. At the moment of leaving that life behind, the thoughts of the blessings ahead of me, never crossed my mind. I was terrified of leaving my family, the only life I had known. At the orphanage I was blessed with the unconditional love of our caretaker that gave up her comfortable life for us girls. Through the a program there, I was given one of the best gifts I could have received, godmothers that welcomed me with open arms into their family. Without the love of these women, my wounds would have not been healed from the past occurrences.
I hope that sharing a little on my upbringing will help shine light on the importance of acknowledging that everyone has been through a time and a place that has challenged themselves as an individual. But our goal is to not allow them to go through them alone, that is why this forum is here. We will be here for anyone willing to speak about their own experiences and to SUPPORT those that may be going through the same struggles.
What have you been caring long thus far, that has helped shape you into the person that you are today?